Leave a path for pedestrians

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 16, 2014 

When spring arrives Lee’s Summit police and fire departments get an uptick in calls from people trying to enjoy the outdoors but running into conflicts.

Police get calls about cars blocking runners and pedestrians from using sidewalks and the fire department hears from residents with questions about rules regarding patio fireplaces or grilling in neighborhoods.

Police spokesman Sgt. Chris Depue said that the department in warmer months will get a few calls because of multiple cars parked on driveways that block sidewalks. Depue said homeowners believe the can park cars wherever they wish on drives, but legally the right of way for a sidewalk extends through the driveway connecting the sidewalk on either side.

If the department gets a complaint, an officer will explain the situation to the usually surprised homeowner that they need to leave access for pedestrians so they don’t have to detour into the street.

“We don’t write a lot of tickets on it, we mediate,” Depue said.

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Eden said this time of year the department gets frequent calls about campfires or patio fireplaces.

“All open burning is prohibited in all areas of the city,” Eden said.

Patio fireplaces, such as those enclosed by a mesh or with a chimney are allowed in the city but need to be 15 feet from structures. The only fuel allowed would be charcoal or seasoned wood.

“To be legally used, they have to have the lid on them at all times and some one attending them at all times,” Eden said. “The thing to remember is to keep it a safe distance from the house.”

No trash or yard waste can be burned so that there aren’t noxious odors for neighbors, Eden said.

He recommends grills also be a safe distance from structures. Most apartments don’t allow grilling on decks, he said.

The city does allow small campfires for cookouts, with permits issued by the fire department, Eden said. The city doesn’t allow bonfires.

The permits are free, but have to be obtained during normal business hours and the department inspects the site to confirm there’s a suitable fire ring to enclose the fire, which is at least 25 feet from a structure. There also needs to be a means for extinguishing the fire and it must be constantly attended.

Daily conditions dictate whether the permits can be used. On a Red Flag Warning day, where there’s low humidity and high winds that could make it easy for fires to spread rapidly, permits are suspended, Eden said.

In agricultural areas the city and Missouri Department of Natural Resources allow burning brush piles, but it requires a permit from both the fire department and state agency.

Eden said the city gets many requests from churches and Boy Scouts for recreational fire permits.

“Everybody likes to sit around fires, it’s a great time, just do it safely,” Eden said.

A few other little-known ordinances:

Don’t block mail boxes, if parking on the street 10-feet distant on either side of a mailbox

Curfew in city parks is 11 p.m. but there’s no other curfew in the city

It’s a violation to leave keys in unattended cars

No “dumpster diving” or picking up discarded items on streets

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