arkville’s Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a new ethics ordinance on Tuesday night, after entertaining a tension-filled debate to garner the board’s support to designate the city’s downtown area as an historic preservation district.
The ethics ordinance codifies more stringent expectations on all of the city’s municipal officials. Among other mandates, all officials are now required to attend an ethics seminar. The ordinance proposes to address past ethics concerns that the city has confronted and seeks to anticipate new challenges that could arise in the future.
While the chamber erupted in April when the city first considered the matter in the aftermath of the April 5 municipal election, on Tuesday the ordinance passed without dissension after a brief discussion by City Attorney Jack Campbell.
Members of the Parkville Original Plat Neighborhood Association petitioned the board to support their effort to seek certification of the city’s downtown core as an historic preservation district for designation as a Certified Local Government (CLG) with the State Historic Preservation Office. The office is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The petitioners argued that certification is necessary as the development pressures on the burgeoning city risks altering the character of its historic downtown corridor. While the city is cognizant of the compromises that future growth can bring to its unique personality, supporters of the process insist that current zoning ordinances are insufficient to maintain the current atmosphere of downtown Parkville.
The opposition’s concerns centered on what might be required by property owners in the future.
While he stated that he is leaning towards supporting the district, Alderman Dave Rittman argued that there are already stringent zoning requirements in the area. He indicated that he would first like to ensure that the majority of affected homeowners support the proposal before moving forward.
Rittman also pondered that certifying the area with the state might bring a different dimension to the challenges that the city will face.
“It’s a whole lot of different teeth,” he argued.
After a lengthy and often passionate debate, the board opted instead to approve Alderman Dave McCoy’s substitute motion to support the continued study of the issue. The motion also held that supporters must specifically define the program as well as address the specific concerns that were raised by speculative board members and two citizens who rose in opposition to the proposal.
The motion fell far short of the supporters goal to proceed in the process with the city’s support.
Alderman Jack Friedman served as the association’s sole champion on the board. He provided the lone dissension to McCoy’s motion.
Friedman offered an impassioned appeal on behalf of the petitioners and insisted that the primary concerns had already been researched and answered. He believed that the supporters were being held to unreasonable expectations to move forward with the process.
“The board was given the full CLG program in their packets,” Friedman admonished. “And, now you’re asking for it again.
“They’ve [already] put in a ton of work already,“ he added, “It’s unfair.”
“Yes,” Maria Sprague applauded Friedman from the gallery, “We’re frustrated. And, we’re tired.”
Sprague was one of the principal supporters of the effort.
If the association received the board’s official support, the city’s certification as a CLG would not be final until the board approved it in final passage after reviewing the specifics of the program.
The ardor continued after the board’s vote as the discussion spilled over to the sidewalk outside city hall where supporters continued to attempt to persuade unconvinced holdouts to their cause.
Main Street Parkville President Tom Hutsler did not want to leave speculation about his position on the issue. He voiced his support of the effort when he rose to address another matter for the board’s consideration.
Hutsler stated, “ Just for the record, … I’m for the CLG.”
The board approved police officer Eric Sligar’s promotion to the rank of Sergeant. Chief Bill Hudson sought to expedite the scheduled promotion two weeks prior to schedule, citing that the department has “been shorthanded long enough.”
Sligar attended the meeting with his wife, Natalie.
Grant Gould, who is with Boy Scout Troop 1433 from the Heartland Presbyterian Camp, addressed the board to earn credit for his Communications Merit Badge.