Government
1:14 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Council Votes On Traffic Lights, Chickens, Animal Abuse

Traffic lights, animal cruelty and backyard chickens highlighted Thursday's Kansas City, Mo. city council meeting.

City yields on traffic signals

Half of the Kansas City traffic signals that were turned off late last year will be turned back on, as the city yielded to neighborhood pressure.

Thirty seven traffic lights were turned off in the first wave of phasing out signals at intersections where federal standards say are no longer needed. The lights were also old and in need of replacement at a cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

But some residents and the Kansas City School District demanded that16 of them be turned back on – and willget their way.

Mayor Pro-Tem Cindy Circo emphasized that it has to be a temporary fix: “We left them with the same old outdated infrastructure. That's what we did today. So I hope it's very clear to staff that we need other choices besides 'on or off.'.”

At Circo's suggestion, the city council called for a study of all of the intersections to determine whether conventional red-yellow-green signals, flashing lights, stop signs or other warning devices would meet safety concerns best at each of them.

Animal ordinance revisions

The council voted unanimously to double what was a $500 maximum fine for animal cruelty. Councilman Jermaine Reed brought the ordinance to the council because of a particularly disturbing case of animal abuse in his district.

But co-sponsor Scott Taylor said the change could also be beneficial to humans, according to recent research. Taylor referred to studies that suggest that particularly with young people animal cruelty often is a precursor if later abuse to humans. “The sooner we can stop the process earlier the better, overall,” he said.

The ordinance also defines animal cruelty... and fixes some flaws in the regulations on backyard chickens that made that law more restrictive than intended.

For example, the existing ordinance had set distance limits on how close the birds could be kept to a building inhabited by humans at 100 feet. Councilman John Sharp noted that few city lots would then be large enough for urban chicken-raising because most lots are 50 feet or less at their longest dimension.