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I.                    CALL TO ORDER


A regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Liberty, Missouri was held in the Council Chambers at City Hall on February 14, 2005 with Mayor Stephen P. Hawkins presiding.  Mayor Hawkins called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.




The invocation was given by Council Member Juarenne Hester who then led the pledge of allegiance.




Roll call was answered by Mayor Stephen P. Hawkins; Ed Collins and Coni Hadden, Ward I; LeRoy Coe and Anna Marie Martin, Ward II; Lyndell Brenton and Juarenne Hester, Ward III; and Bill Parker, Ward IV.  Also in attendance were Patty Gentrup, City Administrator; Cynthia Boecker, Assistant City Administrator; Brian Hess, City Engineer; Steve Anderson, Planning & Development Director; Craig Knouse, Police Chief; Gary Birch, Fire Chief; Chris Deal, Parks & Recreation Director; Donna Kay Taylor, Community Center Manager; Linda Tyree, Finance Director; Mary Towse, Human Resources Director; Sara Cooke, Public Relations Coordinator; Lyndsay Heal, Management Assistant; Jane Sharon, Deputy City Clerk; Elizabeth Suh, Kansas City Star; Angie Borgedalen, Liberty Tribune; Joe Cook, Sun News and six members of the public.




A.                 REGULAR SESSION MINUTES OF JANUARY 24, 2005


Council Member Hadden moved to approve the minutes as distributed.  Council Member Coe seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.




Council Member Martin moved to approve the meeting summary as distributed.  Council Member Hester seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.




Council Member Coe moved to approve the minutes as distributed.  Council Member Brenton seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.




Ken Robinson, 1108 N. Ridge, stated that the residents along Gallatin remain opposed to commercial vehicles being parked in residential neighborhoods.  He said they had believed the situation was well in hand when Council chose not to amend the Code, but the other party continues not to be in complete compliance. He stated the neighbors would continue to express dissatisfaction with tow trucks parked in the neighborhood.  Mr. Robinson stated he was certain the council members would not want these trucks in front of their houses.  He said L-L Towing continues to park tow trucks in the neighborhood and he was present to ask the assistance of Council in finding a resolution to the problem.  He stated the residents in the neighborhood are steadfast in their opposition and Mr. Lemons is not fostering a harmonious relationship with his neighbors.  Mr. Robinson stated that Mr. Lemons is wriggling around the observance of the City Code.  He asked what enforcement the City uses when a vehicle continues to be moved from one street to another.  He said one vehicle is parked in the drive and there are still two or three parked on the street at times.  He asked the City to investigate and emphasized he prefers resolution to acrimony, but Mr. Lemons has shown no willingness to compromise.


Richard Boose, 307 N. Gallatin, stated that when he was at the last Council meeting, he thought it was agreed that only one truck per residence was allowed.  Council Member Collins said that referred to vehicles on the property.  Mr. Boose stated the tow truck operator owns nine vehicles and three have been parking in the neighborhood.  He stated they have Jake-brakes on them, which are very loud and most cities don’t allow them.  He asked the City to consider restricting use of Jake-brakes.  He said he doesn’t believe the parking ticket fines are sufficient to get Mr. Lemons to comply and it isn’t good that the City has left it to the residents.  He said they need help in getting this situation resolved.


Charles Lee, 316 N. Gallatin, stated that he agrees with what has already been said.  He said these homes are where they live, in the older part of town.  He said he knew Council wouldn’t want this in their neighborhoods.  Mr. Lee said Mr. Lemons has gotten away with this for years.  He said he is not trying to keep the man from running his business, but he has a tow lot.  He noted the contract with the City states a post office box, not the tow lot address.  He said Mr. Lemons should be towing vehicles to his tow lot and asked where vehicles picked up by Lemons are towed.  Police Chief Craig Knouse said private vehicles are towed to the locations requested by the vehicle owner or to the tow lot on Brown Street.  Mr. Lee stated that Mr. Lemons operates his business from his home, yet he is not charged the 32% assessment for doing so.  He stated the tow trucks can be parked at the Georgetown Furniture lot, or at the tow lot which is less than five minutes from Lemon’s house.  He said a tow truck is not an emergency vehicle, like an ambulance and can easily make it to an accident scene within thirty minutes.


City Administrator Patty Gentrup stated that there had been a lot of activity since this issue was last addressed at a Council meeting in January.  She asked the police chief to provide an update.


Chief Knouse stated that parking has always been a complaint-driven issue and the primary role of City staff is to settle the issues causing the problem.  He used the example of parking on the square, noting there are two warnings issued before the actual citation and this rotates every six months.  He said this reflects the philosophy of the City.  Chief Knouse stated that, before the January meeting, there had been no complaints about parking on Gallatin.  After the January meeting, there was a higher visibility of tow trucks in the area.  He said that his staff had talked to the neighbors as well as Mr. Lemons and no common ground could be found.  He has told his officers to monitor the parking along Gallatin and there have been seven complaints since February 1.  Chief Knouse said one and sometimes two tow trucks have legally parked on the street under the two hour limit.  The trucks are removed and then return for another two hours.  He said this goes on until about 10 pm, then the trucks are parked at the parking lot on Mill Street.  He said the business owner is highly aware of the requirements and the only action not taken by the City is posting an officer on Gallatin for two hours to monitor the parking.


Chief Knouse said the key question is whether the law should be changed and he does not recommend any changes due to this neighborhood dispute.  He said the law was established to allow commercial vehicles into residential neighborhoods to conduct business.  If the law were to change, it would have to include all commercial vehicles and would then put the City in the position of having to determine what exceptions would be allowed.


Chief Knouse reviewed the existing contract between the City and L-L Towing.  He clarified this contract is for tow services pertaining to City vehicles only.  In 2004, the contract was worth to $1,800 for the contractor.  In order to be included on the rotation list, the tow truck operator must be able to respond when called and must maintain a tow lot.  There is no contract for towing of personal vehicles.  Mayor Hawkins asked if an accident included a fatality if the private vehicle might be towed under the City’s contract.  Chief Knouse said that was likely, given the vehicle would be considered evidence.


Council Member Martin asked how often the City uses Lemons’ services under the contract.  Chief Knouse said it could be one or two times a week, because the contract includes services such as charging a dead battery and tire changes.  Mrs. Gentrup said additional information would be provided.


Council Member Collins asked if the City had the authority to require a street address, rather than a post office box for a license.  Mrs. Gentrup stated that the City doesn’t license tow trucks per state statute.  Mayor Hawkins asked if there are any home-based business issues with dispatching from residential property.  Planning & Development Director Steve Anderson said the home-based business standards would apply, in terms of traffic, but not in terms of dispatching.


Council Member Hester asked if the trucks moved at night to the Mill Street parking lot have permission to be there at night, why they couldn’t also be parked there during the day.  Chief Knouse said he assumes the parking lot owner is aware of the tow trucks parking there and they have been there during the day as well.  Mrs. Hester said it appears this is a difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law, to prohibit commercial vehicles from parking for long periods but allow business to be conducted.  She said the two don’t seem to be reconciled.  Chief Knouse said the parameters are that the vehicle must completely vacate the spot, and then re-park to be within the law.  Mrs. Gentrup stated they must look at the entire City and allow service trucks to respond in residential neighborhoods.  She stated police staff has met with the tow truck owner and suggested options.  Chief Knouse said the owner has left the impression that he will continue to park within the two-hour limit.  Mrs. Gentrup asked if he has looked at other parking options.  Chief Knouse said the Code could be changed to restrict parking on a particular stretch of Gallatin, but the tow operator has moved his truck over one street and parked on Main Street; that’s probably what would occur if the Code was changed, so the police would have to continually determine how far to set the restricted area.


Council Member Hadden said she is trying to figure out the limitations associated with this issue.  She believes businesses should be able to conduct business, but questions whether the tow truck operator is conducting business at the time he is parking vehicles along Gallatin Street.  She asked, if all three trucks are parked on the street at the same time, how could they say business is being conducted using all three.  Chief Knouse stated that, while this has occurred, it is rare that three trucks have been parked at this location at the same time.  He stated there are two people living in close proximity to one another, both of whom operate tow trucks, but it is unusual that two trucks are on the street and one in the driveway.  Mrs. Hadden asked if the trucks are not engaged in towing, how can it be said they are doing business.  Chief Knouse said he has been told the ordinance was originally crafted so that owners of large trucks would be able to drive their trucks home for lunch.


Council Member Collins said he understands the frustration between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law, but the City can only enforce the letter of the law and that is what is being followed, in this situation.


Mayor Hawkins stated that a similar situation existed with individuals parking on the square and moving their vehicles from one space to another.  That was addressed by expanding the area in which parking was allowed for the limited time.  But that is why the City employs a parking officer, whose full-time job is to monitor parking around the square and enter data to track violations.  By changing the ordinance, he said, an additional officer would be required for enforcement.  Chief Knouse added that one officer on the street is counted as 25% of the on-duty force.


Council Member Martin asked about Jake brakes.  Chief Knouse said the City does not have an ordinance in place for these.


Council Member Hester asked if home owners’ associations can have their own regulations regarding parking.  Chief Knouse said they can.  Mrs. Hester suggested that might be an option for the neighbors.  Mayor Hawkins said it would likely be very challenging for the neighbors and might require unanimous agreement of all residents.  Council Member Hadden said, if a home owners’ association was put in place in an established neighborhood, certain existing situations might be grandfathered in anyway.


            Mayor Hawkins asked if there was any practicality to extending the area of parking enforcement, such as what is done on the square.  Chief Knouse said it wasn’t really practical from an enforcement standpoint.  Council Member Hester asked about the possibility of increasing the fines.  Chief Knouse said they are not graduated now and each violation is $10.  Changing that would require an amendment to City Code.  Mrs. Hester asked what other options there were besides adding an officer to monitor the parking.  Chief Knouse said he had spoken with the City’s legal counsel and with the City Prosecutor.  The prosecutor said, if a citizen filed a formal complaint and was willing to testify in court, the prosecutor would start a file and, if endorsed, the person against whom the complaint was lodged would be cited into Municipal Court.  Mrs. Hester asked if the citizen complaint would be directed to the court.  Chief Knouse said it would go to the prosecutor.


            Council Member Brenton said he has heard the Jake brakes discharged along Liberty Drive and the sound is horrible.  He said it appears they are being used in this neighborhood as a result of the antagonism that exists.  He recommended the Council consider restricting the use of Jake brakes in the City and redraft the existing ordinance to address the residents’ concerns.  He said it is his understanding the business owner’s attorney has counseled him in this behavior and the City needs to put some teeth in the ordinance.  Mrs. Gentrup asked for clarification of what he would recommend.  Mr. Brenton said the fine could be increased or imprisonment could be added as a penalty if that is what it takes to turn around the attitude of a persistent violator.  Mayor Hawkins noted that, as a practical matter, increasing the penalty would be applied to all violators.  Mrs. Gentrup clarified it would be for all commercial vehicles.  Mayor Hawkins stated that this could be defined in the ordinance and changed easily.  But there would also have to be increased enforcement.  Mrs. Gentrup reminded Council that, in the last three weeks, the letter of the law hasn’t been violated by the tow truck operator.


Mayor Hawkins said this is not just about penalties and enforcement.  It is a snowballing situation which could force the individual into more gamesmanship than exists at this point.  He questioned whether there was a place in the neighborhood where the tow truck operator could rent a spot.  Chief Knouse said officers have talked with the business owner about his options and he and his staff will continue to contact both the business owner and the neighbors, while still addressing the complaints.  He said they shouldn’t quit trying and will continue to work with the parties to reach a resolution.  Mayor Hawkins said if the neighbors abandon this approach and police enforcement is increased they won’t like that solution.  He said it is wiser to continue seeking a compromise.  He added that if the tow truck operator wants to find a way to mock the ordinance, he can.  To avoid that possibility, it is best not to exacerbate the problem.


Council Member Hester asked what would be involved in the prosecution.  Chief Knouse said if the officers are not seeing a truck parked at the same spot for longer than two hours, a citizen can document and file a complaint.  That person must also be willing to come to court and testify.  The prosecutor then makes a determination and, if charges are filed, a summons would be issued.  He noted that some citizens have taken measures to document the parking of the tow trucks, but the police could not verify what was being reported.


Mayor Hawkins said it is appropriate for Council to express to Mr. Lemons the need to compromise.  If amendments are wanted, Council needs to direct staff accordingly.


Council Member Collins suggested perhaps the City could allow the trucks to park behind the Fire Station in the City lot.  Chief Knouse said if that was permitted, other businesses would want to park their vehicles there also, because it would be closer to their homes.  Mayor Hawkins said it would be better if that type of arrangement were left to private persons or institutions and the business owners.


Charles Lee again asked why the tow truck operator can’t park his vehicles at his business location instead of at his home.  He said this wouldn’t be an issue if the tow truck operator was parking in Blueberry Hills.


Sam Houston said the operator has no business parking his truck where he lives and he is taking advantage of the old part of town.  He said this fight has been going on for 15 years and nothing is being done about it because of the area where this is a problem.


Mayor Hawkins said he has used a tow service recently and the tow truck responded within 15 - 20 minutes.  He said he asked the driver where he parks his tow truck and the driver responded that he parks it at his apartment complex, where he lives.  Mayor Hawkins said the driver has lived at that location for two years and told the mayor he is not aware of any complaints.  Mayor Hawkins again said that any changes to the ordinance have to be for all, not just a particular tow truck operator.


Richard Boose asked if an apartment parking lot is considered a commercial lot and, if so, it isn’t the same situation.  He asked how long the tow trucks are.  Chief Knouse said one was about 30 ft.  Mr. Boose suggested the ordinance be changed to state if the operator is not on call, the truck has to be parked in a commercial lot.  He said the operator can park in the Mill Street lot and be there in five minutes.


Ken Robinson said this has escalated and, if some want it adjudicated, so be it.  But the essence is the tow truck operator is not compromising and living harmoniously.  He said the residents are appealing to justice, fairness and morality.  He asked for respect and courtesy to be shown to the residents by the business owner.  He added that the residents don’t have the money to form a home owners’ association or hire an attorney, but they remain steadfast in their opposition to commercial vehicles being parked in residential areas.


Mayor Hawkins said the best solution is voluntary, before the City raises fines and changes ordinances.


Chief Knouse said his staff will continue to work with the parties to find a solution.


Council Member Brenton said if common ground can be found, that would be terrific, but penalties and fines are there to discourage behavior and, if they are not doing so, they should be removed from the books.  He said he was appreciative of the efforts being made and agreed it would be best for an amicable solution to be achieved.


Council Member Collins said he hoped this issue could be resolved.  It is one person and one place that is causing the difficulty, but changing the ordinance for the entire city is using a canon where a flyswatter is needed.


Mayor Hawkins said there may be a need to raise fines but the City shouldn’t become an actor in this drama and should only assist in the resolution.  He said it doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe there is a solution that will leave laws and enforcement of them in place that are not subject to challenge.  He said it is important to give community policing a chance to work.


Mrs. Gentrup said staff will reengage the tow truck operator and will take information of violations from citizens willing to testify in court.  Council Member Hester asked for a timeframe for these steps.  Mrs. Gentrup said the operator would be contacted tomorrow and the enforcement is ongoing.  Mrs. Hester asked when Council would reexamine the issue.  Mrs. Gentrup said staff would provide updates and more information should be available within a couple of weeks.




            Mrs. Gentrup stated City Hall would be closed Monday, February 21, for the President’s Day holiday and there would be a Council study session on Tuesday, February 22, 2005.




A.                 APPOINTMENTS


Planning & Zoning Commission


Appoint Detlef Lehnardt to a term expiring January 1, 2008.


Historic District Review Commission


Appoint Matt Grundy to a term expiring July 1, 2007.


Council Member Coe moved to approve the appointments.  Council Member Hadden seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.








Document No. 6317 was read.  Council Member Martin moved to approve the ordinance.  Council Member Brenton seconded the motion.


Vote on the motion was as follows:  Council Member Collins – yes; Council Member Martin – yes; Council Member Hester – yes; Council Member Parker – yes; Council Member Hadden – yes; Council Member Coe – yes; Council Member Brenton – yes.  The motion carried unanimously; it was approved by the Chair and inscribed in Ordinance No. 8777.




Document No. 6318 was read.  Council Member Brenton moved to waive the rules and consider the ordinance on first reading.  Council Member Coe seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.


Council Member Hadden moved to approve the ordinance.  Council Member Martin seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.  It was approved by the Chair and is inscribed in Ordinance No. 8778.




Mrs. Gentrup stated this project had been removed from Council consideration so that a bid process could be initiated.  The recommendation is to award the bid to Commercial Aquatic Services.  She stated that the project will not commence until the fall, but there is a need to order equipment and schedule the contractor for the project.


Document No. 6319 was read.  Council Member Martin moved to waive the rules and consider the ordinance on first reading.  Council Member Hadden seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.


Council Member Coe moved to approve the ordinance.  Council Member Brenton seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.  It was approved by the Chair and is inscribed in Ordinance No. 8779.


X.         OTHER BUSINESS – None.






Mrs. Gentrup noted that future land use has been discussed and there will be an opportunity to discuss this timely topic over the next three to four months.  She stated the City contracted with HNTB Corporation in 2002 to engineer phase one of the parkway.  HNTB also has developed a traffic model, a detailed review of market conditions and an analysis of the future land use designations throughout the corridor.  Last summer, the City contracted with HNTB for conceptual design/alignment and an economic analysis of phase two of the parkway.  A charrette in September resulted in two conceptual alignments.  On March 7, 2005, a joint study session of City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission would allow review and discussion of the two alignments to determine a preferred alignment for the parkway as it extends from Withers to 291 Hwy.


Later in March a Community Housing Assessment Team (CHAT)  is slated to conduct a survey of housing in conjunction with Aquila and the Partnership for Community Growth, which may be used in regard to future land use designations.


A community forum in April will allow the community at large as well as stakeholders to participate in a discussion about the South Liberty corridor and how the Blueprint for Liberty and Unified Development Ordinance are related.  The forum will include a mini-charrette where participants break out in groups to evaluate proposed land use throughout the corridor.  Each group will present its findings for questions and discussion by the larger group.  The final outcomes of these activities will be back before Council for consideration, possibly in May.


Council Member Hadden said this seemed to be focused on the South Liberty corridor.  Mrs. Gentrup stated that, historically, land use has been reviewed through the use of section studies and that is the process recommended here.  Mrs. Hadden asked if there will be a report available about what land uses are available in the rest of the community.  Mrs. Gentrup said the CHAT would help provide a lot of that information.  Mrs. Hadden stated she would be out of town all three days of the CHAT and believed the information should be made available before definitive decisions are made by Council.


Mayor Hawkins said that most of the Council had expressed concern that the process would take place before any further applications came forward so the Council would not be faced again with amending the plan and looking at a rezoning application at the same time.  Mrs. Gentrup stated no new applications have come forward at this time.


Council Member Brenton requested staff be very proactive and aggressive in engaging key stakeholders.  Mrs. Gentrup said that is part of the plan.


Council Member Hester asked about the times for the downtown charrette to be held February 23 – 26.  Mrs. Gentrup said the times listed are for particular groups that are invited, but the community is encouraged to attend anytime throughout the three day period.  Council Member Hadden stated that additional stakeholders have been identified for specific groups.  She said while some may receive an invitation as a member of a specific group, all are encouraged to participate.  Mr. Anderson stated that a new schedule would be distributed soon.




            Council Member Brenton said he was sure staff was already aware of the numerous roads around the City where potholes need to be filled.




The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.












Deputy City Clerk