Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No action taken on councilman’s fireworks complaints

By R.D. HOHENFELDT
Managing Editor/The Ozarks Almanac

Councilman Kelly Long tried again Monday night to cut down the number of days people can shoot fireworks in the city limits, but he didn’t have enough help from  other councilmen to get the job done.
“Independence Day is the fourth of July,” Long said. “Why allow it (discharge of fireworks) on July 1, 2, 3 or 5?”
Long, Ward 3 representative, has in past years tried to persuade council members to diminish the days of celebration, owing to complaints from his constituents, in particular one neighbor who goes to work at 3 a.m. weekdays.
“As my neighbor pointed out to me, July the fifth is not Independence Day,” Long said. “It (was) Wednesday.” And Wednesday was a workday for most working men and women in Rolla like the neighbor.
Long said other holidays are not extended with nuisance celebrations.
“I took my children trick-or-treating on Halloween,” he said.  That is Oct. 31, not Oct.28, 29, 30 and Nov. 1, 2 or 3.
Using sales tax figures and industry spending figures, Long presented a case that, at most, just 1,890 people bought fireworks in Rolla during the selling days allowed by city code, June 30, July 1-7.
The city code, specifically Chapter14 allows the discharge of fireworks on July 1-5.
Long said he would be willing to allow it on July 3 as well as July 4, but he indicated he wouldn’t stop there. Although he emphasized that he does not want anyone to think that he is completely opposed to discharging fireworks, he said, “My goal is to celebrate the Fourth of July on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.”
There was some push-back from the mayor and other councilmen.
“People enjoy it,” said Mayor Lou Magdits IV about the discharging of fireworks on and around the fourth day of July.
Councilman J.D. Williams, Ward 5, noted that the purpose of allowing the sale of fireworks after the holiday itself is to get rid of stock inventory.
And Councilman Don Morris, Ward 4, said the sellers collect sales tax that is remitted to the city.
Councilman Long said he received complaints, in addition to his working neighbor, from pet owners and combat service veterans.
“One veteran told me that he can go to Lions Club to see the display and it doesn’t bother him,” Long said. That’s because the display is staged and the discharges are expected. The intermittent, unexpected and relentless explosions, especially at night, are disturbing to the veteran.
Regarding sales taxes collected, Long said the amount of taxes is relatively minor.
Councilman Jonathan Hines, Ward 1, said that although fireworks fans discharge the explosives for five days of the year, “there are 360 days they don’t.” He indicated that he could live with that.
But Long continued, and entered a motion to limit the sale of fireworks to July 1-4 and the discharge of them to July 3-4.
Councilman Matthew Crowell, in the discussion after the motion was entered, asked if it might be more logical to limit the sale of high-decibel fireworks rather than all of the explosives. That led to a discussion of the need for additional manpower to go into the various vendors’ tents and selling places--there were apparently six of them--and check each item.
That was judged too time-consuming and expensive.
The motion failed.
Long then attempted another motion, limiting the sale to June 30-July 5. That, too, failed to pass.
In other council action or discussion:
* The council held a public hearing and heard first reading of an ordinance that would rezone some lots from C-1 to C-3 between Faulkner and Rucker avenues, east of Bishop Avenue (U.S. 63) and south of Black Street. The rezoning would allow for the construction of an “enhanced Sonic drive-in,” said Steve Flowers, city codes enforcement officer, who presented the request from Sonic owners to the council.
Final reading and a vote will take place at the next council meeting, the first Monday of August.
* On a related ordinance proposal, first reading was heard on the vacating of Faulkner Avenue for 100-plus feet to tie in the lots fronted by Bishop Avenue with those fronted by Faulkner. This would allow a future replatting of the lots into one lot so the main building, a storage shed, a playground and volleyball court can be constructed without being separated by a street or crossing lot lots. The preliminary site plan puts a building squarely on what is now Faulkner Avenue.
* The council set aside the final reading of an ordinance to allow an agreement with the College Hills West Sewer District,
* A Complete Streets Policy was approved.
* First reading and final readings were heard and an ordinance was passed to authorize and agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation to amend the airport business plan.
* First reading was heard of an ordinance to limit parking on 11th Street between Jimmy Johns and Infuze Credit Unit.
* Fire Chief Ron Smith presented a city Life Saving Award to firefighters Dillon Barnes and Dalton Hayes for saving the life of Kent Summers at Route 66 Summerfest.

Editor’s Note: watch for more details about the council meeting here at the Ozarks Almanac/Ozarks Chronicle this week and in the first issue of the Phelps County Focus newspaper, which will be published Aug. 2.

Get up, look up early every morning

I wish I had a good camera, for I would like to take a picture of the morning sky from time to time.
Today, for instance, when I let the poodles out at 4:45, I wanted to take a picture of the moon and Venus against the eastern sky that was starting to show some blue. Unfortunately, my Tracfone, while good for pictures in bright sunlight, does not do well in the twilight.
Here is a link to Earth and Sky's excellent website.
The sky changes throughout the year, of course, so I use that website frequently, as well as other resources, to keep track of what is going on.
If you get up early, as I do, step outside and take a look upwards.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sonic seeks property rezoning for new restaurant

R.D. HOHENFELDT
Managing Editor

Rolla City Council Monday night will hear the first reading of an ordinance to rezone three lots and half of another, all between Faulkner and Rucker Avenues mid-block between Black Street and Highway 72.
Owners of Sonic have asked for the rezoning from C-1 (neighborhood business district) to C-3 (highway commercial district) zoning.
In addition, the Sonic owners have asked for a portion of Faulkner Avenue to be vacated, so the three lots in the area to be rezoned can be joined to lots between Faulkner Avenue and Bishop Avenue (U.S. 63), to make way for a new and expanded Sonic restaurant.
“The current Sonic would be closed,” Michael Calkins, a part-owner of the local Sonic franchise, told The Ozarks Chronicle/Ozarks Almanac after the Rolla Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. “We plan on more parking bays, a drive-through and a playground.”
Calkins said the plan is to make the restaurant a “destination spot.” He said the expanded restaurant would, for instance, be a place to hold children’s birthday parties.
Asked if there is a timeline for the project, Calkins said, “It all depends on what happens next.”
What happens next will be decided by the Rolla City Council on the rezoning and the street vacating. That will likely take at least two council meetings.
The council will take up the commission’s approval of the rezoning request at the Monday night meeting, but council policy is to hear only the first reading (except in emergency situations) to give the public time to hear about impending ordinance changes and offer opinions to their ward councilmen. That means final reading and a vote on the rezoning change won’t take place until the meeting on the first Monday night in August.
There will be a public hearing on the rezoning change at the Monday night meeting. It is likely that the public hearing at the council meeting will be a lot like the public hearing at the commission meeting, with neighbors offering no opposition to the rezoning but questioning the need and the fairness of the vacating of the street.
City Codes Enforcement Officer Steve Flowers presented the requests to the commission, a task that usually fell to the community development director. John Petersen retired from that position at the end of June, so Flowers will fill in until a successor is hired.
Flowers noted that D.L. Rogers Corp., of  Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex,  was the primary applicant for the rezoning and the vacating.of the street.
The legal description of the area to be rezoned is Lots 3, 5 and 6 of Block 7 of Cowan’s Addition and the west half of Lot 4 of Block 7 of Cowan’s Addition.
Flowers said there are some buildings on those lots currently; they will be demolished. He said the vacating of the street will not include placing a curb across the street. The Rolla Fire and Rescue Department has asked that no curb or obstruction be placed there that would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to enter.
The site consists of 0.88 acre, excluding the street right-of-way that could be vacated. That is 34,397 square feet. The main building will be 1,817 square feet, There will be a 256 detached storage building. The rest of the property will hold landscaped areas, 57 parking spaces, a 1,500-square-foot playground and a 2,250-square-foot volleyball court, according to the current site plan.
There was no opposition to the rezoning from the audience during the public hearing. Some members of the audience asked about expanding the rezoning to all the lots between Faulkner and Rucker avenues on the west and east and Black Street and Missouri 72 on the north and south.
Flowers explained that the people with a vested interest in the other lots had not applied for the rezoning, and commission Chairman Don Brown briefly outlined the procedure obtaining a rezoning.
What concerns a couple of the neighbors is the closing of that short section of Faulkner Avenue. Tom Lin and Sundra Lin, owners of a lot between the property in question on the south and Zane’s Tires on the north, both spoke to the commission.
They explained that they plan on building a business on their lot, which fronts Bishop Avenue and has Faulkner Avenue on its other side. Tom Lin noted that customers of whatever business they build will have to turn north only, going to Black Street if the Sonic vacating is granted. If that request is not given, customers could turn south and go to Missouri 72 (where they would have to turn west only, due to an esplanade dividing the traffic.
Sundra Lin questioned the fairness of closing the street, noting that leaving the street open will help all of the driving public while closing it will help only the owner of the property, the Sonic franchisees.
Commissioner William Lindgren asked Flowers if the city would be reimbursed by Sonic for vacating the public right-of-way. Commission Chairman Brown interjected that he remembered no remuneration for any vacating of any street.
Lindgren said that it was his opinion the commission should go ahead and follow Flowers’s recommendation that they approve the vacating of the street to “put it in a larger forum.” That is what they did with only Commissioner Monte Shields voting against the approval.
Approval by the commission, an advisory body, is actually a recommendation that the council approve the measure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It has been a hot day here.
Right now at 8:33, it is 82 degrees on the front porch. High on that porch was 91.7. Relative humidity is 61 percent.
From the NOAA Co-Op weather station over at the Missouri S&T campus, here is the Rolla weather data for the 24 hour period ending at 7:30 this morning, July 9, 2017.

Maximum Temperature:                                                              90° F

Minimum Temperature:                                                               69° F

Present Temperature:                                                                 73° F

Precipitation:                                                                               0.00"

Precipitation for the year:                                                            30.27"

Precipitation for the month:                                                         3.80"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation:                                                     0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the 2017-18 season:               0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the year:                                  2.6"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the month:                               0.0"

Relative humidity:                                                                         72%

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Council approves Buehler Park master plan

R.D. HOHENFELDT
Managing Editor

With nary a no vote, the Rolla City Council Wednesday night approved a resolution affirming its support of the Buehler Park  Master Plan that includes a dog park.
No roll call vote was cast on the resolution, but the room was quiet when Mayor Lou Magdits IV called for opposing votes.
Eleven councilmen were present. Missing was Ward 3 Councilman David Schott, who in previous meetings had posed questions about building a dog park in Buehler Park. Schott would have been there if the council had met on its regular night, Monday, but the council reset the meeting because some members had indicated a desire to take a long Independence Day holiday weekend; Schott had rearranged his schedule, taking off Wednesday for a trip rather than Monday, thinking the council meeting would be held on its regular schedule.
Instead, he sent a letter that was read by Mayor Magdits prior to the vote. In that letter, he said the Buehler Park site makes perfect sense if the purpose of the dog park is to show hospitality to travelers who stop in Rolla to rest and eat. A different site, one with more available property and nearer to residential areas, would make perfect sense if the purpose of the dog park is to serve local residents and taxpayers.
Schott acknowledged that both purposes have benefits.
The dog park is one improvement proposed in the master plan for the 3.2-acre park on the west side of the city near where the Westside Marketplace will be built.
A few other improvements are new playground equipment, bathrooms, water line, electric upgrades for the pavilion, fence along Kingshighway and walking trail around the park.
In other business or discussion:
* The council heard about a plan to turn Pine Street into one one-way lane with angled parking spaces on both sides. Currently it has two one-way lanes with parallel parking spaces on both sides. City Administrator John Butz said the Rolla Downtown Business Association members like the idea, and he asked council members to think about the change.
* The annual city audit report was presented by Tammy Alsop, representing Hochschild, Bloom & Co. LLC, CPAs. Alsop said the audit shows the financial statements to be accurate and the auditors gave the city the highest ranking for its records.
* By an 11-1 vote, the council approved an ordinance on plugging of existing wells. Councilman John Meusch, Ward 4, voted against it.
* Unanimously, the council approved an ordinance to disallow parking on the short stretch of Elm Street between IHOP and Breaktime, which are on US 63.
* Also unanimously, the council approved an ordinance allowing a contract with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the construction of handicapped walkways.
* No action was taken, but the council heard a report from Nell Davis, a Missouri University of Science and Technology student who is an intern for the Public Works Department, on a Complete Streets Policy. The council will take time to study the policy before voting, possibly at the next meeting this month.
* First reading of an ordinance was heard that if approved would set up an agreement between the city and the College Hills West Sewer District.
* Heard on first and passed on final reading was an ordinance allowing a contract with McConnell and Associations for tennis court improvements. The council took similar action last meeting, but City Counselor Carolyn Buschjost further reviewed the documents, found she had questions and made changes that both the company and the city agreed to support.
* Mayor Magdits appointed, and the council ratified, the following people: Monte Shields to another term on the Planning and Zoning Commission; Dr. Janece Martin to another term on the P&Z commission, and Terry Harris to the Tax Increment Finance Commission.
*Mayor Magdits noted the Transportation Development District Board had met earlier in the day and had authorized distribution of money, including reimbursement to the city for certain actions previously taken.