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Neighbors raise disturbance concerns

A situation that has had some neighbors upset for quite a while has reached the point of possible city involvement.

Council members heard from a resident of the Eastgate mobile home community off Ste. Genevieve Avenue during last Thursday night’s monthly work session. The citizen presented a signed petition and implored officials to help curtail what he said was ongoing peace disturbance.

Reportedly police have been contacted repeatedly about people parking on a lot adjacent to a convenience store next door to the mobile home park. Now some of the residents are taking their concerns directly to the council. They say people hanging out on the parking lot use loud and often foul language, play loud music, and rev engines and squeal tires.

Councilman John Robinson nodded in agreement as the resident addressed the council. Afterward he told the group that he had stopped at the convenience store in the past week and saw a crowd gathered and heard loud and offensive language. He said he saw a boy and girl having an argument, and heard repeated cursing. He added that he had his children in the truck with him at the time.

Councilman Larry Forsythe questioned what ability the city had to enforce existing noise or peace disturbance ordinances. City Administrator Greg Beavers said the problem was that when police officers were called to the area the reported loud and offensive language and music was halted.

Police Chief Rick Baker said the situation is one the police department has been dealing with for decades. “A citizen has to sign a complaint for peace disturbance on the specific person causing the disturbance,” the chief explained. “They cannot just call a police officer to come by and listen for a noise. By law an on-duty police officer’s peace cannot be disturbed, so the complaintant has to go on record and file the complaint.”

The chief said the owner of the property has the right to allow for or discourage loitering on his property. “It depends on how much the owner of the property wants the police department to enforce the congregating on the lot. If he wants them removed,  we have the right to remove them. But that is his call because it’s his property.”

Baker said he’s talked to residents living in the neighboring mobile home park, and has talked to the gas station owner, Jerry Reeves. He said both sides are aware of what the boundaries are and what each group can and cannot do about the situation. He said the owner has video surveillance of the parking lot and has employees monitoring the store’s property as part of their normal duties.

He went on to say that over time several reports have been filed by neighbors in the trailer park, and signed complaints and accopmanying police reports have been forwarded to the city’s prosecuting attorney. Some of those cases have been tried in municipal court.

Councilman Darryl Holdman ended the discussion by asking if the city uses the gas station to purchase fuel for city vehicles. Mayor Stuart “Mit” Landrum answered that the city purchases a large amount of fuel from the store. Several council members nodded and commented that they understood what Holdman and Landrum were talking about.

The petition discussion came during the meeting after the council held four public hearings. The first two were about establishing the Farmington Presbyterian Church and Tetley Building as designated historic properties. It was said the church was listed on documents in 1832, while the former Robert Tetley Jewelry Building, now owned by Ozarks Federal Savings and Loan, was listed on documents as far back as 1894.

Several months ago the council passed legislation creating a program by which to denote historically significant buildings as a “Farmington Historic Property.” Several have already been approved, with more being worked through the process.

The next public hearing was for a move to consolidate several lots and rename the group of properties as the R. Allen Welshon Subdivision. The properties house the city’s street department and fleet maintenance buildings. Under the plan, the buildings will not be named after the former public works director. The reorganized lots will, however, be named after the man who died while on the job. He suffered a heart attack while at city hall for a planning meeting prior to a forecasted snowstorm.

The mayor made it clear that the intention is to name the reorganized subdivision after Welshon on official documents, as opposed to renaming the buildings.

Before moving on to new legislation, the council learned a plan to retrofit the city’s diesel power generators — used for emergencies and to make surplus power for sale to other communities during peak use hours — with emissions filters has been put on hold. The city administrator said there’s been some confusion in implementing the federal rule. The plan is to hold off on the work for a short time until the new requirements can be defined.

One step in the plan not being delayed is the sale of a half dozen or so generators to a Colorado company. The proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down the debt on the group of generators purchased several years ago. It was said the payment for the generators could come as early as next week.

When it came time to take up bills dealing with the historic properties and the resubdivision discussed in the earlier public hearings, the one to be introduced first was a bill amending the annual budget. Finance Director Michelle Daniel gave a detailed report of the mid-year adjustments to the spending plan. Each year the council is asked to approve mid-term spending changes.

Due to the observance of Memorial Day, the next council meeting will not be held on a Monday as normal, but on May 29 at 6:30 p.m.

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