Sweet Springs aldermen hear concerns about planned residential care facility

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Sweet Springs Board of Alderman met on Monday, May 14, to discuss citizen concerns and legalities regarding a proposed residential care facility for mentally handicapped individuals.

Peggy Short approached the board to stress her concerns about a piece of property on South Elm Street and the intended use of the property.

Short said she is concerned about the degree of disability among residents and if it would be a danger to children in the area.

"Will they be mentally alert enough to not hurt children?" Short asked the board.

Mayor Roxanne Hinton said she has discussed the situation with the city attorney and he expressed concerns that it could become an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issue. Hinton said the facility would fall under a home occupation as defined in the zoning ordinance.

Alderwoman Vivian Wiley questioned the definition of adult care provided. She wondered if the intent was for 24-hour care or a "baby sitting" service where the individual leaves and goes home.

Kathy Navarro asked the board how it would be different from her mother watching children at different times of the day that could be 24 hours total.

Wiley said those children do go home at the end of their time.

"I think it is very discriminating," Navarro said.

"I really think you are easily going to walk into discrimination," Hinton said. "I think we should go with what the attorney says."

Alderman Lewis Bybee recommended the city obtain information about what the state requires for this type of facility.

Pat Duffey said, "There wasn't this much concern shown when a registered sex offender was living in Royal Oaks." She continued, "The meeting room should have been filled with concerned citizens and probably no one even knew."

Police Chief Dick Downing said he did talk to the prosecutor's office concerning the sex offender but there was nothing Sweet Springs could do because he was placed there by the state.

In the mayor's report, Hinton told the board she will continue to work on the demolition of three buildings, which include the house at Highland and Elm streets, the old Ford dealership building and the Johnny's Body Shop building. She told the board if they had any other suggestions contact her.

Hinton would also like to see uniformity in signs around the city. She would like all the street signs to look the same and be placed at the same height.

In other business, Navarro presented the swimming pool board's report. The board approved the new fees: family pass (four people in family) -- $100, individual pass -- $45 and group pass (four individuals) -- $150; daily rates zero to five years old -- $1.50, six to 17 years old -- $2.25 and 18 and older -- $3; punch pass (10 visits) zero to five years old -- $12.50, six to 17 years old -- $20 and 18 and older -- $25.50; and pool parties -- $90.

The vicious dog ordinance was discussed momentarily as board members agreed to table it until the next regular board meeting.

During the police department report, Downing commended Janice Bybee and Ronda Nienhueser for a job well done and the entire police department staff for quick response in the recent bank robbery.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Wiley said the board needs to rethink the part-time seasonal employment position if the city is going to be liable to pay unemployment benefits to the person.

She said the city hires them for six months and then they draw unemployment for another six months. Options she recommended would be to hire employees full-time or to hire part-time workers for year-round terms.

Downing said, if the public works get a full-time person then he wants a full-time officer.

Contact Rachel Harper at marshallcity@socket.net

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