Attendees were greeted to an unusually packed gallery in consideration of the ostensibly benign agenda items that the Parkville Board of Alderman had to ponder at Tuesday night‘s lengthy meeting.
But, speculation began to subside when the board turned its attention to the community development segment of the program. Most considered it to be a formality. But, passions overwhelmed protocol when the council took up consideration of the rezoning of ten and one half acres at the corner of Highway 45 and Brink-Myer Road.
Despite pleas for reason by the mayor and board members, a parade of aggrieved citizens took to the podium to announce the reasons for their opposition to a development that has not yet even been proposed.
Truck stops, hotels, restaurants, gas stations … No one knows for certain what type of retail development will be presented to the board for its approval. But, it became quickly apparent that the aggrieved residents were content on exercising their right to futility under the pretense of due process.
Residents sounded dire warnings of traffic fatalities, diesel exhausts, lighting concerns, packaged waste treatments … based on possible scenarios of businesses that the board could approve under the city’s general business designation.
Concerned residents were unfazed by the board’s procedural advice as the speakers’ promises of brevity fell by the wayside when the questionable debate consumed more than an hour of meeting time.
No one questioned the legitimacy of anyone’s concerns or their right to be heard. But Mayor Kathryn Dusenbery and board members repeatedly counseled those who wished to speak that they could make specific recommendations to the council and raise their timely objections after the project has been announced at a later stage in the process.
“This is really a very simple process,” Dusenbery said. The process could not move forward until the rezoning was approved.
The planning and zoning commission already approved the rezoning from County PI & CH to Parkville B-2 last year after hearing from concerned residents. The county’s zoning is very similar to Parkville B2. The city attorney later determined that the new zoning designations were invalid as no public hearing was held.
Alderman Dave Rittman explained that the city may not impose more restrictive zoning restrictions on the land than existed before its annexation under county zoning.
Exchanges became heated on several occasions when residents charged that the board did not care about their concerns.
“We have never said that we don’t care” Dusenbery said.
The rezoning was passed unanimously by the council.
Not to be upstaged, more concerned citizens rose to protest a proposed, upscale car wash at Parkville Commons after the board tabled the issue until the proposed owner could work out some unresolved concerns from the city.
Rittman warned fellow board members that they were potentially exposing the city to liabilities after the board voted to remove the matter from the table to accommodate the insistent residents, as the proposed developer had not been afforded the opportunity to make his presentation before the board entertained objections.
Paul Giarratana updated the board on cost estimates and safety issues regarding Gary Worden’s plan to leave up the city’s Christmas lights year round in the downtown area. Dusenbery had asked city staff to prepare a report on usage costs and necessary electrical upgrades.
Giarratana reported that it was advisable to replace the lights and make several improvements to the current electrical system provided by the city. Cost estimates for the improvements were expected to exceed $25,000 in the first year, including $2,000.00 – $3,500 in anticipated electrical usage costs every year.
A volunteer with the group that erects the lights for Parkville’s annual Christmas on the River celebration reported that he had arrived at similar figures.
Dusenbery said “Really, the main point of this is to bring attention to our downtown year round.”
But, she added “This is a Main Street issue. It really isn’t the city’s responsibility, as it is the merchants who are getting the benefit from it.”
She explained that she was willing to expend city staff and expertise to assist the merchants but that no monetary contribution should be expected from the city in its current fiscal year.
Giarratana indicated that while the amount seemed steep, he believed that it would become a much more manageable figure if the costs were divided by individual merchants who wanted to participate in the project.
The council approved the purchase of new equipment for the city’s cable access channel. The approved purchase is for various equipment to upgrade the channel’s capabilities and may not exceed $8,000.
The station also received a generous contribution from the Platte County Development Corporation in the amount of $5,000. Gary Worden reported that it was one of several grants that the community corporation had gifted to the Parkville community.
He explained that it was intended as a complement to the city’s own contribution “to make sure that we really get a first class system that represents a first class city.”
As the board reached the police department report, Police Chief Bill Hudson joked that “we’re going to ask [City Clerk] Mrs. Lance if we can draw straws for a place on the agenda.”
As he worked his way into his report, Hudson added: “After three hours, I’m not sure that I want to get into all of this.”
The board passed an ordinance adopting the Platte County Emergency Operations Plan as its own. Hudson explained that it was important to enact an emergency preparedness plan as federal regulations require the city to have a plan to qualify for federal reimbursement of economic damages suffered in a disaster.
A bill to merge the Tree Board, Parks Committee, and Events Committee was not acted on by the board at Tuesday’s meeting. But, passage is expected at its next meeting after a few minor issues are resolved.