Parsons city commissioners briefly discussed a parking ordinance on Monday evening, but it wasn’t quite what they had in mind.
The commission had requested an ordinance that would regulate parking vehicles on front lawns throughout the city.
Ross Albertini, city attorney, wasn’t present at Monday’s meeting, but he did submit a draft parking ordinance based on another city’s.
The draft ordinance dealt primarily with large vehicles such as truck, road and farm tractors; farm implements; construction equipment; boats; trailers; and semitrailers. It would outlaw those vehicles from parking on any street or city right-of-way in a residentially zoned area of the city except during use or actual work involving the vehicle. It also would limit motor vehicles longer than 25 feet and recreational vehicles and recreational homes to parking on streets and rights of way for no more than 48 consecutive hours.
The ordinance also would make it unlawful to park any of those listed vehicles in front yards unless they are on an all-weather surface such as concrete, brick, asphalt, rock or chip and seal.
The ordinance makes no mention of smaller vehicles such as cars, pickups and sport utility vehicles.
“This does a lot, but it doesn’t do what we had in mind,” Commissioner Tom Shaw said.
City Manager Debbie Lamb told the commission the city staff would make changes and resubmit the ordinance for the commission’s consideration. Lamb said on Tuesday she’s not sure what changes will be made, but the newly revised draft ordinance will be presented during the commission’s next meeting on Aug. 19. She asked commissioners to email her with any proposed changes.
The draft ordinance also states it would be illegal to park a vehicle on public property, including streets, for the purpose of advertising for a business or the vehicle for sale or lease. Shaw thought that provision may go too far because a van with a business logo and phone number on the side could be considered advertising.
Shaw also thought there should be some consideration for parking trailers on residential streets, especially small trailers such as those used to haul lawn mowers. Trailers, and perhaps boats, should be allowed to park on residential streets for at least 48 hours, he said.
Commissioner Kevin Cruse said he thinks people should be allowed to park their vehicles in their front yards short term as they advertise them for sale.
Shaw also said he would like the ordinance to address long vehicles parking on Main Street downtown where the street narrows to two lanes. There has been some concern for several years about long trucks sticking out into traffic. Lamb said that would be a separate issue.
5G network concerns
In another matter Monday, the commissioners heard again from John Barney, who has concerns about the potential expansion of the fifth-generation of cellular network technology into Parsons.
Barney spoke to the commission at a July 15 meeting about possible health concerns related to the 5G network. He said no one knows the long-term effects of cellular technology, especially the new 5G network, on human health or on insects, birds, pets and other creatures. Barney urged the commission to approve a moratorium on the required infrastructure.
Instead of building tall towers for the 5G network, wireless companies are placing small boxes on utility poles throughout cities. U.S. Cellular has talked about using the Parsons’ right-of-way, but nothing has been planned yet.
On Monday Barney said people don’t take the time to research issues to determine how things may affect them.
He said some cities have tried to stop the 5G infrastructure because of concerns about health, but states have blocked their efforts. Barney said if Kansas tries to block Parsons from banning the 5G network, the city should do it anyway, even if it results in fines. The city could use social media to raise awareness and support on the issue, even financial support to pay the fines, because a lot of people are concerned about the technology.
“I know there are a lot of people who think we can’t win it, but I think we can,” Barney said.
Barney said the city should create a focus group to study the issue. His main concern is for people under 40 who may have to learn the hard way the long-term effects of the 5G network.
The commissioners didn’t comment on Barney’s concerns.
Albertini has said the city probably could make it difficult for wireless companies to expand the 5G network into Parsons, but ultimately the city would lose.
In other business Monday the commissioners:
— Approved an ordinance to increase municipal court costs from $75 to $90, with the dedication of $25 to a fund to be used for jail medical bills, court administrative expenses, publications, officer training and housing prisoners at Labette County Jail.
— Heard from Lamb that Laura Moore, community development director, is working on a grant application with Parsons resident Breanna Nush for a splash pad. Lamb said Nush also had a meeting on Friday concerning the splash pad she is proposing, but Nush didn’t want to comment on the meeting.
— Approved payment of $10,451.12 to TranSystems Corp. for engineering services on a Kansas Department of Transportation project that will make improvements to 16th Street (U.S. 59) near Main Street, including a widening of the intersection to make room for turn lanes.
— Approved payment of $22,500 to TranSystems for services pertaining to a BUILD Grant for North 16th from the Labette Creek bridge to the north city limits.
— Approved payment of $9,920 to JRB Industries Inc. for demolition and site clearance.
— Approved an agreement with TranSystems for bridge inspection services for $11,400.
— Approved the use of the Marvel Park parking lot west of the football stadium and for the low-water bridge to be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 2 for a touch-a-truck event sponsored by Curious Minds Discovery Zone.
— Re-appointed Richard Babcock to a three-year term on the Parsons Planning Commission.
— Set 6 p.m. Aug. 18 as the time for a public hearing on the 2020 city budget.
— Approved distribution of special alcohol funds in the amount of $20,000 to Labette Center for Mental Health Services and $5,000 to Labette County/Cherokee County Juvenile Services.
— Approved the purchase of a side-by-side utility vehicle for the Parsons Police Department for $20,572.43 from Jay Hatfield Motorsports, Frontenac. A Parsons Area Community Foundation grant will pay for the vehicle that can be used for search and rescue, evidence searches and access to parks, trails and railroad right of way.