Town and Country Alderman Censured, But Threatening E-mail Investigation To Continue
The investigation into a threatening e-mail will continue, while also changing city laws to handle future situations. The city also passed an ordinance to enforce a new school zone Monday night, while the solar panel debate continued.
Threatening E-mail -
The Town and Country Board of Aldermen took its first steps Monday night to put in place rules pertaining to anonymous harassment and to further the investigation into who actually sent a threatening e-mail to an alderman last year.
The board voted to move forward with the appointment of a special prosecutor to continue the investigation.
An ordinance amending the current municipal code pertaining to harassment was also introduced Monday night and a push was made to further investigate the matter.
The amendment makes it a crime if a person "knowginly frightens, intimidates or causes emotional distress to another person by anonymously, or through the use of an alias, pseudonym or assumed name, making a telephone call or any electronic communication."
The changes come two weeks after the board of alderman censured Ward Four Alderman David Karney because the e-mail was traced back to his computer.
Ward Two Aldermen Tim Welby called on the board Monday night to further the investigation into the threatening e-mail received by Ward Three Alderman Fred Meyland-Smith.
After a police investigation, the e-mail was traced to Karney's computer. Karney denied sending the e-mail, which stated Meyland-Smith "should be shot." Karney, however, refuses to reveal who actually sent the e-mail from his computer using one of his alias e-mail accounts.
"We have a sense of responsibility to find out who this individual is," Welby said. "If we do nothing and something happens, we can't look back and say 'I wish I would have.'"
Dalton said he's received numerous emails from Town and Country residents calling on him be a "leader" and take further action.
"I've given it a great deal of thought and I too am dissatisfied with where we are," Dalton said. "I believe we have an open matter than is still unsolved."
Dalton said he was willing to pursue the matter further with a special prosecutor as with the support of the board. St. Louis County prosecutors already reviewed the case, determined it was a city matter and that criminal charges will not be filed.
Ward Two Alderman Al Gerber said he does not support taking the matter any further with a special prosecutor. Ward Three Alderman Steve Fons said he is satisfied with the public reprimand of the Jan. 10 censure.
"I'd prefer to put this dark chapter behind us," Fons said Monday.
Karney said the board should "do what they need to do."
Karney, Fons and Gerber voted against moving forward with a special prosecutor in this investigation. The new city ordinance could be voted on at he next board meeting in February.
Mason Ridge Elementary School Speed Zone-
The board also voted to enforce a school speed zone in front of Mason Ridge Elementary School. An effort has been underway by some parents and school officials for more than a year to get the zone.
Monday night's vote means the city of Town and Country will enforce the zone if approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation and/or the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic.
MoDOT told Patch Monday that the department has been working with the city of Town and Country and the Parkway Schol District. A MoDOT spokesperson said that now that the ordinance is passed, the department will move forward with getting school zone signage on the South Outer Forty Road, but will wait to see what St. Louis County will do before putting up signs along Mason Road in front of the school.
Mark Harter is the chair of the school's safety committee and has been involved with this project for over a year. He said they will continue to move forward and hopes the county will too.
"MoDOT has signaled that they are in favor and the county has signaled that they are not," Harter explained.
The recommended posted speeds would be 30 mph on Mason Road and 40 mph on South Outer Forty Road.
Check back to Town and Country - Manchester Patch later this week for more on the Mason Ridge School zone.
The board voted to further study a resolution that would grant resident Joe Gira a permit to build a solar panel on his back yard. Mayor Dalton and several aldermen voiced their concerns that the city had never dealt with this type of construction and needed to revise its current ordinances.
"Regardless of our position in this project, we need to look at this issue much closer," said Ward One Alderwoman Nancy Avioli during the work session.
Ward One Alderwoman Lynn Wright echoed Avioli's words and made a motion to send the project back to the planning and zoning commission. The motion passed with Mayor Dalton breaking a 4 - 4 vote tie.
Resident Dorothy Cooke, whose house is adjacent to Gira's backyard, said she is not against solar energy but does not think the panel is aesthetically pleasing.
"This is not a debate over solar energy or carbon footprints or coal or toxic emissions or the future of the Earth," Cooke said. "This is a discussion over whether or not a planned structure in the residential suburban estate zoning of our city meets the conditions necessary to quality for a conditional use permit. It is basically a question of aesthetics."
Gira said nearly all the neighbors directly affected by the project, except for Cooke, approve of the solar panel. Gira said it was not his intention to change the aesthetics of the community and that the solar panel makes Town and Country a greener city.
"The last thing we want is to disrupt the view of our community," Gira said. "We want to be good neighbors."
The issue will be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission again this Wednesday and could be considered for a vote again next month.