Missouri House repeals village law, adds new restrictions

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | 10:09 p.m. CDT; updated 12:08 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri House members voted Wednesday to repeal a contentious law making it easier for landowners to incorporate their properties as villages. But they linked it to new restrictions on sexually oriented businesses.

Supporters had hoped to keep the village-law repeal free of other provisions, so it would have a better chance of passing before lawmakers adjourn their session Friday. The future of the combined bill is uncertain, however, as it heads back to the Senate.

The main provision of the legislation would repeal a 2007 law that has been lambasted by local elected officials because it allows property owners to escape planning and zoning rules by making it easier for them to petition to become their own villages.

The village law, which is supported by House Speaker Rod Jetton, passed last year without scrutiny or discussions. But it sparked controversy when a southwest Missouri developer, frustrated by county government, immediately sought to turn his land near Table Rock Lake into a village.

Since then, another developer near the eastern Missouri town of Washington also has sought to turn his property into a village. Several property owners have done the same in Camden County near the Lake of the Ozarks, including one man who wants his property to become a village so his mules can roam freely as a method of weed control without violating local ordinances.

Rep. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, said about a dozen landowners are seeking to become villages around the state.

“If we don’t do something to repeal it now, there could be 30 of them by this time next year,” Wasson said. But he added: “If there’s anything else that goes on that bill with two days left ... they’re all probably dead.”

In a somewhat unusual series of events, the House loaded up the Senate-passed village law bill with numerous amendments Wednesday, then stripped most of them out in an attempt to pass an untainted repeal of the village law. But House members voted 88-57 to retain a provision imposing strict new requirements on sexually oriented businesses.

That occurred after Jetton, R-Marble Hill, urged lawmakers to support the restrictions on strip clubs. It also came after Rep. Michael Frame, D-Eureka, expressed concerns that lawmakers who voted against the sex shop restrictions, because of their support for the village-law repeal, could nonetheless be smeared by opponents in political campaigns.

The bill could banish sexually oriented businesses to remote locations by prohibiting them from locating within 1,000 feet of a house, school, church, child-care facility, library, park or other sexually oriented business.

The measure also would bar nudity at strip clubs and require seminude employees to remain on a stage at least 18 inches high and at least 6 feet away from customers.

Those restrictions are similar to ones passed by lawmakers in 2005 that were struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court because they had been added to a bill originally crafted to address “intoxication-related traffic offenses.” The court said lawmakers violated the constitution by changing the bill too much from its original purpose.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he opposed the 2005 measure on grounds it likely would violate the constitution.

House supporters of the village law repeal feared Graham would filibuster the village-law repeal now that it has been combined with the restrictions on sexually oriented businesses.

But Graham said he hadn’t reviewed the combined bill yet nor decided whether to try to block it.

Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, said he may first try to pass the combined bill in the Senate and, if that fails, seek to send it to a House and Senate negotiating group to strip out the section on sexual businesses.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Debbie Cox May 15, 2008 | 1:02 p.m.

Could you please let me know how a private landowner can become a village, would you happen to have the phone # of one of the people above that has already made their private land a village, so I could talk to them personally,
as we are interested in doing this too.

The reason that this is becoming so popular is due to corrupt local government. They make up laws as they go along, and we have a good ole boy thing going on, where they scratch some peoples backs and other people they won't let them get ahead and the head officials even commit illegal acts against people, to benefit themselves, or the people they are back scratching.

(Report Comment)
donna stover June 28, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

I live in a small village in Northwest Missouri. Our Board of Trustees are violating almost every Statute. They know they are doing criminal offenses. They do not care and just keep violating the statutes. Spending the tax dollars any way they want. They will not submit a Budget, Semi-Annual financial report, nor a Yearly Financial report to the State Auditor. They are committing nepatism, fraud, forgery, false statements in the Minutes, not posting, having meetings at a Board Members House with out the Public because the public is not notified of such meetings, failing to post meetings, Illegally swearing in Board Members, spending tax dollars with out a motion or vote to do so, refusing to give copies of public records, removing and destroying public records, operating with 4 members and the law says we have to have 5 members, Some Board Members are Drug Dealers, Violating the Village Ordinances, not posting for bids when work is needed, and it goes on and on. I want to know why something is not done to stop them. I am trying but I am only one women and they have threatened me with death if I did not stop. What can be done.

(Report Comment)
bernard gerstner April 29, 2010 | 8:08 a.m.

I also live in north west missouri and I for 1 would like to know where donna lives.
I have a friend who is being sued by a city which is claiming the powers of a 4th class city when in fact they are only a village. Another abuse of power in northwest missouri.

My question is who does the policing of thies small governing bodies?

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.