Leawood extends moratorium on ordinance that bans Little Free Libraries until May 2015

Brian Collins told the Leawood City Council Monday he believed Little Free Libraries were "works of art" that should be subject to Constitutional freedom of expression protections.
Brian Collins told the Leawood City Council Monday he believed Little Free Libraries were “works of art” that should be subject to Constitutional freedom of expression protections.

The Leawood City Council on Monday spent an hour and a half digging into the details of a proposed ordinance change that could allow homeowners there to legally place Little Free Libraries on their property before voting to extend the moratorium on the law that currently prohibits Little Free Libraries in Leawood through May.

Leawood passed the moratorium on enforcement of the city’s detached structures prohibition as it pertains to “containers designed to hold books or other media to be shared by members of the community” in July after word of the city’s moves to shut down 10-year-old Spencer Collins’ north Leawood Little Free Library made national news. The initial moratorium expired Oct. 20.

During the work session Monday, Leawood council members discussed what stipulations would be appropriate in permitting Little Free Libraries outside of homes in the city. Among the issues explored were whether homeowners who want to place a Little Free Library in their yard should have to get the approval of the planning commission and whether they should be required to notify neighbors of their intent. City Administrator Scott Lambers shared the results of a survey distributed to boards of the city’s home owners associations on the issue. The survey found that 72 percent of the boards of the associations that responded believed Little Free Libraries should be made legal in Leawood with some regulations. However, because the home owners association survey was anonymous, it’s difficult to suss out what percentage of all Leawood homes the results represent. Some home owners associations in Leawood cover just a few dozen houses. Others have more than 1,000.

Lambers memo summarizing the results of the survey is embedded below:

https://dfv6pkw99pxmo.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Doc-Oct-21-2014-6-26-AM.pdf

Collins’ father Brian addressed the council in the council meeting Monday before they voted to extend the moratorium, and said he believed the only restriction to which they should be subject was that they be installed outside the city right-of-way.

“They are works of art. They are unique. And the exist to disseminate books,” Collins said. “I think Leawood should welcome Little Free Libraries and welcome as many of them as the citizens want to put out.”

Since the Collins family’s plight to keep their Little Free Library on Ensley Lane gained national attention, Spencer’s Little Free Library Facebook page has picked up nearly 33,000 followers.

The Leawood council is expected to take up the issue again at its May 4 meeting.