Weston board bans parking on Washington Street, then rescinds vote

WESTON, Mo. — The Weston Board of Aldermen narrowly approved, then rescinded a parking ban on Washington Street in front of the West Platte school facilities during its meeting last week. 

The Washington and Spring streets reconstruction project is not quite over, but it is beginning to wind down. During the Monday, Feb. 13 board meeting, aldermen were scheduled to discuss reverting to normal traffic patterns. 

The conversation digressed into talk of cars parking on Washington Street across from the school buildings. Prohibiting parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays was considered, but because school is still getting under way at around 8 a.m., members thought occasional parking may happen. 

Weston mayor Kent Stelljes suggested that police could give leeway to those parking at the start of the school day and use their own judgment. Weston police chief Terry Blanton suggested instead making the parking ban begin at 9 a.m. 

The board agreed except for alderman Mark Seymour, who stood opposed to a parking ban as some residents in the area don’t have off-street parking available. The parking ban was approved on a 2-1 vote with Seymour voting no and alderman Joyce Burch absent. 

Beth McPherson, owner of the Weston Chronicle newspaper, said a proposed parking ban was not listed on its posted agenda, thus potentially violating the Missouri Sunshine Law. 

“You just passed something that could affect a whole lot of people without any notice,” she said.

Stelljes agreed, and the vote was quickly rescinded. Discussion on a potential parking ban will be held at the Monday, March 13 meeting.

In other business, the possibility of another lodging option in downtown Weston dredged up opinions on short-term rentals, hotels and bed and breakfast operations.

Property owners Dustin Cox and Steve Umford presented a brief proposal to the board about using the property at 517 Main St. as a “lodging house,” as defined by Weston ordinance. They believed according to their research on existing ordinances, the use of the upstairs apartment as overnight accommodations could be permissible. 

“I feel like it would be a big asset to the downtown district to keep people downtown,” Umford said. “This would allow people to bring their families and stay, instead of driving to Platte City for a hotel.”

Stelljes suggested the matter be brought to the Weston Planning and Zoning Commission. Weston city clerk Kim Kirby informed him that it already had been, and the owners were told no.

“Why was it shot down?” Stelljes said.

McPherson, also a planning and zoning board member, said it wasn’t shot down, per se, but Cox and Umford were told the property would require an on-site manager. Additionally, the planning board has looked at the matter of short-term vacation rental properties three times in the last three years and each time had turned down the concept.

“I think this idea is worth entertaining because it would give us more rooms in town,” Stelljes said. “This seems like something the city could use, and I don’t want to just disallow it off-hand.”

Umford said the facility would not be a short-term rental of the type that the city has had problems with since the business model is closer to a hotel suite with a kitchen. Additionally, it would be a licensed operation under the supervision of the property owners or a manager.

In recent years, online rental platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO have been a topic of conversation in the city. 

In early 2015, the city heard complaints on an unlicensed short-term vacation rental home near downtown. The home was available to rent online, sleeping up to 10 people at a time in the unoccupied four-bedroom home. Residents complained they saw dozens of people cycle through the home, taking up parking and making nearby property owners uncomfortable.

Although that operation was shut down, last year a Weston resident sought the legalization of short-term rental properties. Weston planning and zoning then determined no short-term rentals would be allowed at that time.

Umford said unlike those previous situations, which took place in residential areas, his proposal would only allow for such rentals in the downtown commercial district. The operation would be a sort of hybrid hotel, and Umford said he would be willing to pay a premium licensing fee to the city to keep the operation professional.

Stelljes suggested Cox and Umford draft up a proposed ordinance and present it to the planning and zoning board — again — at its Monday, Feb. 27 meeting.

The upcoming Weston Wine Festival, sponsored by Pirtle Winery, was moved from Saturday, May 20 to Saturday, May 13. The board also gave approval to McCormick’s Country Store to host a barbecue contest and street dance on Labor Day weekend.