Roeland Park City Council sends regulations on Little Free Libraries back for change in setback rules

This Little Free Library is in Roeland Park on Rosewood near Ash.
This Little Free Library is in Roeland Park on Rosewood near Ash.

The Roeland Park City Council Monday sent proposed regulations for Little Free Libraries in the city back to the planning commission for changes in the setback requirements.

The recommendation coming out of the planning commission limits the placement of the LFLs to single family residential lots, church properties or public or parochial schools. The proposal also defines the maximum size for an LFL. The LFLs also are limited to one per address.

Roeland Park already has LFLs in the city, but has not had regulations defining any restrictions. Other cities in northeast Johnson County do have houses with more than one library or a library in a commercial district. Those are not in the permissions of the Roeland Park proposal.

The one proposed regulation, though, that did not get approval from the council was how far an LFL should be set back from the street. The proposal suggested that a library should be located between the front of a house and the right-of-way. Public Works Directory Jose Leon asked for the setback to be five feet behind the right-of-way because, he said, a library on the right-of-way could cause problems with snow plowing.

Mayor Joel Marquardt, however, said it should be near the right-of-way or close to the sidewalk for people in wheelchairs. “I do think it is important to have them accessible,” he said.

City Administrator Aaron Otto said the public right-of-way is not consistent on all streets and it does not always line up with the middle of the street. The right-of-way can be wider on one side of the street than the other, he said, sometimes pushing back several feet from the curb.

The council eventually suggested the setback be revised to five feet from the curb, but with the disclaimer that an LFL placed in the public right-of-way might need to be moved for utility work.

Building official Mike Flickinger reported that the new recommendations came partially from a review of sample regulations on the LFL national site.