Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2005

Prosecutor throws out go-kart case

Decision prompts administrator to look at possible new ordinance

November 3, 2005

A dispute pitting neighbor against neighbor that had been scheduled for a hearing this week in Lansing Municipal Court has been removed from the docket.

Andrew Jones, who lives at 112 W. Lois St., had filed a complaint against his neighbor, Kenny McCullough, who lives across the street diagonally from him at 117 W. Lois St. Jones filed a complaint with the city for the noise generated by the weekend racing of go-karts, ATVs and dirt bikes a small dirt racetrack on McCullough's property behind his house.

Catalina Thompson, city prosecutor, decided against bringing the matter before the court, where it originally was scheduled to be heard Wednesday.

"I reviewed our current ordinances, and we don't have a sound violation," Thompson said. "Currently, we didn't have an ordinance in place to enforce."

Mike Smith, Lansing city administrator said, he had requested Thompson study ordinances in Olathe and Overland Park and draft an ordinance to be presented to the City Council for consideration in a couple of months.

"We're not saying we don't have an issue," Smith said, "but we want to be careful with how the government gets involved with what people do on their property."

Smith said the only ordinance now on the books that could apply in this instance was a nuisance ordinance, which he said would be enforced depending on whether the noise "disturbed a reasonable person."

Jones, whose house is about 100 yards from the racetrack, said after learning that the case was dropped, "We're very unhappy."

"Since they got the letter (notifying that the case is dropped), they've acted like it's their street and they can do whatever they want," Jones said of his neighbors.

McCullough, who moved to West Lois Street in June, said he never knew there was any problem before early October, when police showed up behind his house at a birthday party for Jones' nephew. Jones, McCullough said, had never approached McCullough before he called police.

Jones complained to the Lansing City Council on Oct. 6 about the track, which prompted Council member Robert Ulin to remark, "I think it's extraordinary that we don't have laws on the books to deal with these nuisances in our neighborhoods. They pay good money to move into neighborhoods, then somebody decides to put some trash in his back yard, turn it into a go-kart track. That's ridiculous."

McCullough said he resented Ulin's remarks.

On Wednesday, the track was clean and surrounded by grass and trees on three sides. On the side without trees are a bank of railroad ties and tires. He said he made the track by driving his ATV around in a circle repeatedly.

"I built this track for my kid, and for my friend and his kid," he said. McCullough's son is 4 years old and rides a child-sized ATV.

"I'm kind of upset about it," he said of Jones' actions and an Oct. 13 article in The Current, which he said was unfair to him.

McCullough said Jones' riding lawnmower made more noise than his recreational vehicles, which are a Honda 90 ATV, a 50 cc mini-bike and a 5-horsepower go-kart.

His next-door neighbors, Tim and Kim Motley, said they hadn't had any problems with the noise from McCullough's track.

But, Tim Motley said, "We're never home." On weekends, when McCullough and his son use the track, the Motleys are usually away watching their children play football, basketball and baseball.

Motley said McCullough was a good neighbor. When he complained to McCullough of the dust being raised by the vehicles, McCullough hosed down the track, Motley said.

While the neighbors disagree about what should become of the track, the city continues to work on the issue. On Monday, Smith told Jones about the ordinance he hopes to present to the City Council soon. That ordinance would be modeled on the ones in Overland Park and Olathe, and violations would be probably be determined by a certain range of decibels, Smith said. It would also include exemptions for such activities as lawn mowing.

Jones said that while he glad to hear this from Smith, "I'm hoping he's going to keep this working and pursue this problem."

McCullough said he was resigned to the possibility of a future ordinance preventing the intended use of his track.

"I don't want it passed because it's my property, and I ought to be able to do what I want," he said, "but I can't do anything about it if they pass it."

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