#90: Laramie, WY 3/7/17

It was a sleepy Tuesday evening at Laramie City Hall. Frankly, hibernating bears see more action than we did at this council meeting.

The audience was pared down to Laramie’s hale and hearty: the man scrolling on his phone in a camouflage jacket (this is Wyoming), the guy wearing a dress shirt and stylish vest (this is…Wyoming?), and the cub scout fidgeting next to his mom in the back row.

“I move to approve ordinance 1961–is that the correct item?” Councilor Vicki Henry inquired, glancing over at the mayor for a supportive nod.

A city employee ambled to the podium and shuffled his papers. “Honorable mayor and city council, this is mostly to correct typographical errors and other small errors we found in the code,” he explained.

Typos! That explains why Laramie has no dog park, but lots of dog pork (which, honestly, the dogs enjoy more).

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Counting the seconds

But one hawk-eyed councilor noticed something potentially disturbing in this so-called typo ordinance.

“I love my bicycle. I have a very nice bicycle. I paid a lot for it,” Councilor Bryan Shuster narrowed his eyes. “I see here a bicycle parking requirement shall apply to all uses except single family detached or duplex. So if somebody builds a fourplex, they have to put in bicycle racks?”

“Honorable mayor and Councilor Shuster, that is correct,” acknowledged the employee. That was apparently music to Shuster’s ears. He leaned back and nodded, dreaming of his two-wheeled companion.

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“I often say, ‘Bicycle, I wish I could quit you.'”

But now it was Councilor Henry’s turn to pick a bone.

“If I can find it,” she muttered, searching her packet. “It was something about the outdoor storage and the fences and the things that you’re storing cannot exceed the height of the fence?”

“Honorable mayor and Councilor Henry,” the staffer robotically prefaced again, “it’s actually item B on page 9–”

He drew his pen across the page. “Wait a second. Nope that’s not it.” He paused but kept his composure. “Oh, yeah, it’s the very last sentence….”

He trailed off. “Let’s see,” he scanned his papers as the council waited with folded arms.

“The very first line,” jumped in Councilor Henry, “says ‘each outdoor storage area shall be screened from view’–oh, that’s not the one. Sorry.”

Confusion reigned. Tensions flared. The cub scout yawned.

“It’s B!” hissed multiple councilors, referring to the slippery section B that was the focus of Henry’s white-hot rage.

She locked onto her target. “It says ‘materials may not be stored higher than the height of the primary structure.'”

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“If there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s tall materials.”

But without warning, Councilor Shuster body-slammed her interpretation. “In my mind the way it’s stated–it says we have a maximum height on the fence but we don’t have a maximum height on the structure.”

“Well, I know of SEVERAL places where the things that are being stored are higher than the primary structure,” shot back Henry. “And I would love to see this enforced.”

There were uneasy glances. Mayor Andi Summerville shifted, then pressed on with the meeting. Shuster again raised his hand to get her attention.

“Mayor? Please announce that the ribbon cutting for the Harney Street overpass has been canceled.” He paused for suspense. “Because they’re afraid of losing people to the wind.”

With that, everyone chuckled and relaxed. The cub scout yawned.

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