Maplewood City Council moved forward with three controversial issues at the meeting on Tuesday.
An ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity in sections of the city code passed its first and second readings.
The ordinance to approve QuikTrip’s move from its current location on S. Big Bend to the northwest corner of Manchester and Big Bend passed its first of three readings.
Ward 2 Councilman Tim Dunn reintroduced food trucks, with a proposal to give them a six-month trial period.
Sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance
When the sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance was introduced, Mayor James White asked City Manager Marty Corcoran if he wrote it. Corcoran said it was drafted from the Richmond Heights law, which is the same as the Clayton law.
“What organization originally wrote this ordinance?” White asked Dunn, who introduced it. Dunn said he presumed Richmond Heights. White said he didn’t like that they didn’t know who wrote it, but Dunn said he can read it, and it doesn’t matter who wrote it.
White paraphrased what the ordinance could do, per a legal opinion from the city attorney.
“Under this ordinance you can have a male by birth, he could be a convicted sexual pervert, he could, under this ordinance as written, go into the women’s bath area at the pool and simply by saying, ‘I feel like I’m a woman today…”
Dunn tried to disagree at this point but White continued.
“If anyone tried to move this individual out of the women’s bathroom, out of the shower stall, as he goes by opening all the curtains, saying he was looking for something open. If one of our residents…push this person out of this…bathroom, under this ordinance they could be convicted of a hate crime,” White said.
White also said the group protected in the law deserves protection just as every Maplewood citizen deserves protection, but they don’t deserve more protection than they actually deserve.
He said he proposed an amendment, when Ward 1 Councilman David Cerven asked him, but the council members hadn’t seen it.
Ward 3 Councilman Barry Greenberg said he agrees with 95 percent of the ordinance, and there’s been ample opportunity to reach a compromise. “I’m ready to vote,” he said.
Ward 3 Councilman Shawn Faulkingham said the spirit of the resolution is to ensure protection for people who have been discriminated against because they’re different. He disagreed with White’s assessment.
“Your take on it might be an extreme, but no matter what your race, creed, orientation - if you do something wrong against the law, it’s against the law, and I think that this ordinance will still protect regular citizens if there’s somebody doing something in a bathroom that is inappropriate.”
White said they’d be giving more protection to this group than federal or state law gives them. He said the motion is dangerous and moved to table it.
White, Ward 2 Councilman Fred Wolf and Ward 1 Councilwoman Karen Wood voted to table the motion. Dunn, Faulkingham, Greenberg and Cerven voted against tabling. White immediately called for a vote.
The motion passed in the first and second readings. The final reading will likely come at the next council meeting.
White encouraged everyone to pick up a copy of the ordinance and read it thoroughly.
QuikTrip relocation ordinance
The council heard opinions from seven speakers in public comments about the QuikTrip move, including representatives of the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education, Maplewood Chamber of Commerce and QuikTrip. In all, five were against the move and two were for it.
After a motion and a second, Faulkingham said he had talked with parents and kids in Maplewood and Richmond Heights, as well as the traffic engineer in the project. He had some amendments.
He proposed a gate across Martini Avenue at the north end, only allowing traffic from the south end, which accesses QuikTrip from Manchester. QuikTrip would pay for two adult crossing guards at the intersection. There would be no right turn on red at southbound Big Bend and Manchester. Traveling east on Manchester, a left turn would be only with a green arrow. Finally, he proposed a barrier to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk on the west side of Martini.
Cerven said he wants citizens to take the zeal they’ve shown for safety, and apply it to other issues, and bring those to the council too.
Greenberg said they could continue to analyze this for years, but said he feels confident QuikTrip has shown a desire to listen to the concerns of the citizens and the school district. He said more dialogue might be needed, but it’s time to move the project forward, if that’s what’s decided.
Dunn suggested an amendment that the city close its right of way at the north end of Martini with a permanent fence, closed to pedestrians and vehicles. Only QuikTrip would use Martini from Manchester. Students would cross Big Bend up closer to the school.
“You throw all these people together, and cars; something bad is going to happen,” he said. “I’d like to just move the students away from that corner.”
The ordinance passed its first vote, with Faulkingham’s and Dunn’s amendments, then was tabled. Corcoran said amendments to the ordinance could change up until it finally passes. It’s expected to have its second reading and vote at the Sept. 25 meeting and final vote at the Oct. 9 council meeting.
Food truck discussion
Dunn proposed to allow food trucks in Maplewood for a six-month trial period, but not on Manchester Road or Sutton Boulevard or at city or chamber-sponsored events.
Faulkingham said two things he’s a big fan of are property rights and not restricting business.
“I think it’s important to have a lot of eclectic businesses, and if we keep them out of brick and mortar areas and away from events, it reduces the impact.” He said he wants to give them a chance, and get feedback from businesses.
Greenberg said as long as the trial is for a set period of time it won’t do irreparable damage to existing businesses; it would give them more information.
Cerven said, “Of course I’m for it.” He said the overwhelming resident opinion is in favor of food trucks, which they need to listen to, but to be smart about.
Wood said she’s kind of convinced now.
“Maybe it won’t hurt the businesses, as was pointed out before,” she said. “It might even bring people. People do follow those trucks all over the place.”
Corcoran suggested that trucks not be allowed to park on city streets, and also, if an event organizer wants food trucks, then it could be allowed. He said he would draft an ordinance for further discussions.
Jeannine Beck, director of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce, said they listen to the businesses and they are against food trucks.
“I think what they are suggesting does help businesses like The Post or brick and mortar businesses, but it will certainly hurt Imo’s and Jimmy John's,” she said. “I understand they're trying to make a compromise, but we still don’t agree with that.”