Last updated: June 26. 2014 7:52PM - 1007 Views
By - ncooke@civitasmedia.com

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The Citizens for a Clean Sedalia Committee voted to recommend the proposed Broadway Boulevard front yard parking ordinance to the Sedalia City Council during its meeting Thursday.

There was very little discussion during the meeting, which had a large audience that included several councilmembers. The only discussion Thursday night revolved around which residences would be grandfathered into the proposed ordinance, specifically how homes with paved driveways, or two driveways, would be affected.

“If they are using it as a driveway and not as a parking lot, then it’s something we can work with them on,” City Administrator Gary Edwards said during the meeting. “…Where a driveway has been converted to a parking lot, that’s where the problem is. If there’s cars for sale, that is a problem. Selling cars on Broadway in front of a home, that’s a problem. But the main goal is to keep from using it as a parking lot and it can be grandfathered in if that’s not a problem.”

The proposed ordinance will be on an agenda for either the July 7 or July 21 city council meeting, which the Clean Sedalia Committee plans to attend once a date is set. It would go into effect Nov. 1 if approved.

The proposed ordinance will affect homes on East and West Broadway Boulevard between South Merriam and South Warren avenues. No portion of a vehicle can be parked on dirt, grass or gravel that is not part of an “improved” driveway. Exsisting driveways, paved or unpaved, that don’t exceed 12 feet in width, will be allowed, but any driveways built in the future must be paved. If approved by council, the ordinance will carry a three-tiered fine system for any violators: first violation $100; second violation $200; third and subsequent violations $500.

“An extremely small number of people will be impacted by this. Very small, about 98, 99 percent of the homes along there, and we’re only talking about Broadway,” Edwards said just before the recommendation was passed. “Thousands of people have their image of Sedalia on Broadway. That’s where they go. They don’t go on Warren or Barrett, they go on Broadway. … The idea is to keep it from spreading, because there are some houses that are impacted that are using it for a parking lot, and the goal is to keep it from spreading.”

The ordinance reflects that sentiment: “Historically, (Broadway) has been the ‘image’ of Sedalia and continues to be so,” the ordinance introduction states. “Consequently, the appearance of East and West Broadway Boulevard requires special attention and requirements without being an exceptional burden on homeowners.”

“That’s the street people drive through. If they’re going on Highway 50, that’s what they see,” chairwoman Mary Merritt told the Democrat after the meeting. “It was selected for that specific reason. … We’re keeping it in this narrow area for a specific reason, for the image we present for the people driving through.”

Kristine McNeal, of the 500 block of West Broadway Boulevard, said she understands Broadway presents an image of the city, but the proposed parking ordinance makes her current parking situation even more difficult. Her family’s backyard is small, and half of it is a bricked courtyard, making it almost impossible to park a vehicle there. Her portion of Broadway also lacks an alley behind the homes, meaning residents must pull out on a busy Broadway each time they leave.

“What it does is it puts everyone in my household in the situation where they are having to back out on Broadway when it’s busy…,” McNeal told the Democrat Thursday. “Everyone has to play musical cars. There’s a handful of houses on Broadway that have that issue. The houses on north Broadway have an alley so they have access to back of the house, but our house is somewhat unique — it goes the length of the block but there’s nowhere to park in back.”

McNeal said her family was contacted by the city when they moved to the residence two years ago about yard parking, and the city official she spoke with said the family could extend the driveway with gravel and park there, as long as no cars were parked on grass.

“Imagine my surprise when Clean Sedalia brings this up. Is mine going to be grandfathered in?” McNeal said. “… There aren’t auto parts, shells or engines in the driveway, only three cars unless we have guests. It’s hard when people visit to tell them to park on Vermont and walk over. You don’t do want to do that to guests, you want it to be convenient.”

McNeal said she was never informed of the proposed ordinance, and the first time she heard about it was by reading the Democrat’s article covering the June 3 meeting. Although some residents are opposed to the idea, Merritt said neither she nor any other committee members have been contacted with concerns, and no one in attendance Thursday offered comments.

“Someone could’ve talked to us instead of describing us in the paper, it was very descriptive of where we were. They singled us out, it felt backhanded. They could’ve helped us find a solution,” McNeal said.

“…I think the committee has its purpose, but somehow they have to keep their nose out of everyone’s business. We feel that when they pay our mortgage they can tell us what to do with our piece of land. Shame on them for worrying about if someone who doesn’t live here drives by and sees someone parked in their yard, oh Heaven forbid.”

The next Clean Sedalia meeting will be at 6 p.m. July 24 in the Mayor’s Conference Room.

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