Procedural issue sends Roeland Park’s proposed fix for St. Agnes abortion awareness display back to planning commission

Jay Senter - April 19, 2017 11:16 am
The Roeland Park city council continues to struggle with how to handle a display of crosses set out during abortion awareness month, like the one above in Washington state, under city code. Photo via Flickr.
The Roeland Park city council continues to struggle with how to handle a display of crosses set out during abortion awareness month, like the one above in Washington state, under city code. Photo via Flickr.

By Holly Cook

An ordinance that would accommodate St. Agnes Catholic Parish’s annual abortion awareness was sent back to the Roeland Park Planning Commission with a vote of 4-3 during this week’s city council meeting.

Councilmembers voted 5-3 to approve the ordinance during a previous meeting, but the city determined that vote not valid due to a procedural issue. The version of the ordinance presented to the council at the time of its vote included a change that had not been approved in the Planning Commission so it required approval from two-thirds of the governing body, or six affirmative votes. It only received five.

If the amended version of the ordinance is approved by the Planning Commission it will only need to gain 5 affirmative votes from the council for approval.

Councilmembers Sheri McNeil, Michael Rhoades, Tim Janssen and Ryan Kellerman voted in favor of passing the ordinance during the March meeting and voted to send the measure back to the Planning Commission during Monday’s meeting. Councilmembers Erin Thompson, Teresa Kelly and Michael Poppa voted against the ordinance in March and against sending it back to the Planning Commission.

Councilmember Becky Fast was not present at Monday’s meeting due to an illness but voted to support the ordinance during the March meeting.

The ordinance would lessen restrictions on special events signage for nonprofit organizations including churches and schools. The updates would allow an unlimited amount of signs to be posted, but would limit the total event display to no more than 500 square feet or 5 percent of the total square feet of the property. Signs could be posted for up to 60 days per year.

These changes would allow St. Agnes Catholic Parish’s annual display of roughly 40 small white crosses to fall within the parameters of the ordinance.

During Monday’s meeting councilors also unanimously approved updates to a separate but related ordinance that will allow nonprofit organizations with multiple buildings to post more temporary signs.

Currently a school or church with several buildings is allowed the same amount of temporary signage as those with a single building. The updates, which were proposed by Mayor Joel Marquardt, would allow buildings with at least 2,000 square feet to post up to three signs.

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