By Paul Thompson
The Grandview Board of Aldermen agreed to revise the city’s seat belt ordinance during their Tuesday, June 18 work session, in a decision that will create a $50 ticket for failing to buckle up.
The ordinance revisions had been spearheaded by Chief of Police Charles Iseman, who referred to the current ordinance as “antiquated” during a June 4 work session in which the notion of revisions was first discussed.
The board’s decision to fast-track the legislation shows that the city is taking a hard stance against drivers who aren’t wearing seat belts. Iseman noted that the threat of a $50 ticket is meant as a deterrent, and emphasized that safety is his primary concern with the ordinance. Iseman also indicated that there would be a grace period in which officers will offer warnings to drivers who are caught with an unbuckled seat belt.
“I also want to get a pretty aggressive educational aspect going with this,” said Iseman, adding that the police department plans to offer literature designed to get the word out about the stricter seat belt penalties.
The board voted 5-1 during the session to approve Iseman’s recommended changes to the ordinance. Ward III Alderman John Maloney was the lone vote against. Maloney voiced concerns about the serious penalties that violators could face if they are unable to afford the $50 ticket.
“I want safety to be the primary thing, but I don’t want people to have warrants because they can’t pay the ticket,” said Maloney.
But other aldermen argued that citizens would be more likely to take the revised ordinance seriously if it had some teeth to it.
“If you don’t make it significant, I think people will blow it off,” said Ward III Alderman Jim Crain. “If you make the fine stiff enough, people will wear their seat belts.”
Maloney remained unmoved, and ultimately voted against the tightened ordinance due to the steep fine.
“Speeding is expensive, but people still speed,” he said.
Also at the work session, the board interviewed two new candidates for the Zoning Board of Adjustments. Former mayor Jan Martinette offered her expertise to the difficult commission, while fellow appointee Tony Gonzalez offered his services to the Zoning Board of Adjustments as well as the Construction Board of Appeals. The Zoning Board of Adjustments listens to appeals and grant variances to the Zoning Ordinance, and is charged with maintaining the spirit of the rules.
“I know that the Board of Adjustments is probably the toughest one of the bunch,” Martinette said to the board. “It’s very tough, it’s not a fun thing, and you don’t get any favors from anybody. There are several ways of looking at things, but you need to have the experience in order to see those things.”
Gonzalez cited a desire to have an impact in his community as his reasoning for seeking a role in city government.
“I just really want to get involved with the city,” said Gonzalez.
The board also took time to discuss the prevalence of used car dealerships within the city. The aldermen showed an interest in limiting future expansion of such dealerships, as board members questioned whether the used car lots negatively impacted the appearance along I-49 Highway.
“It’s almost like Independence’s Miracle Mile, except for ours are all used cars,” said Crain. “How do we put a stop to it? Because I don’t think that’s what we really want along I-49.”
Ward I Alderman Leonard Jones agreed, but noted that there are plenty of complications when it comes to reigning in used car sales.
“You still have some interesting grandfather rules that we have to abide by,” said Jones.
City planner Sara Copeland and Community Development Director Chris Chiodini warned the board that although no new used auto sales businesses have opened since 2003, the prospect could emerge sooner rather than later.
“There will be applications for someone who wants to apply for a variance to operate a used auto sales business,” said Chiodini.
“We have two pending variances for those applications,” added Copeland.
Although no action was taken at the meeting, the board did nonetheless maintain its interest in curbing future used car sales.
“I really think a moratorium is what we really need to look at,” offered Jones.