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No Sunshine Law Violation, City Seeks Loop Study

University City's attorney says the city council did not violate open records laws by voting on a Loop traffic study in July.

The City Council voted again Monday to approve an  for the Delmar Loop area.

The council approved the measure 5-0 July 23. It decided to vote again on the measure after Ward 2 Councilwoman Paulette Carr questioned whether the vote was in violation of Missouri's Sunshine Laws.

Even though City Attorney Paul Martin found no violation of the open records law in the first vote, the council voted again to seek proposals for the studies.

Carr , saying that the RFP was not on the agenda prior to the meeting. Council Member Michael Glickert brought it up in a study session prior to the meeting and again during council member comments during the council meeting.

"It was not mentioned in the agenda or the council notes," Carr said Aug. 13. "It was brought up by one council member one hour before the meeting."

She noted that Missouri Sunshine Law requires that the agenda for a public meeting be posted 24 hours prior to a meeting, unless an emergency exists.

Council member Stephen Kraft said prior to the re-vote that he did not object to voting again, although it thought it was a moot point. 

"There was no Sunshine violation, but assuming that there was, does redoing the vote make that violation go away?" he asked. "It's like doing 45 mph on Delmar in a 30 mph zone. Going around the block again and driving 30 doesn't make the violation go away."

Mayor Shelley Welsch said she didn't have an objection to the second vote, especially since she was not in attendance at the July meeting and did not vote on the original RFP vote. 

"I appreciate the decision to bring it back," she said. "There was a question, we've gotten the legal opinion and it has confirmed that there was no violation of Sunshine Law or the City Charter."

Carr disagreed with her colleagues, saying she read the opinion and wasn't entirely sure whether it was or was not a violation. She added that her questioning was only an attempt to make sure the city acted correctly.

The vote to approve the RFPs again was 7-0.

The traffic study

Following the July meeting, the city posted it was seeking RFPs and has received seven responses. City Manager Lehman Walker said none of the RFPs have been evaluated yet and he would bring the findings back to council.

The council sought the study because of the number of questions from residents regarding the  and how it would fit with existing traffic and parking.

Kraft also noted in July that the next step of the Parkview Gardens plan, which has not been implemented but looks at improvements in the area, was a traffic and parking study.

The council voted to approved the RFP, noting concern with the possible cost of complete studies of area traffic and parking. The proposals must be brought back before council for a vote to approve. 

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