Cape Council Passes Rental Ordinance, Doesn’t Repeal Bow Hunting

Oct 2, 2012

The Cape Girardeau City Council sealed the deal on one long-simmering ordinance and put another on next April’s ballot. In addition, the council will now look at new scooter safety laws and underage drinking.

The council unanimously approved the new rental inspection ordinance that establishes minimum property standards for rental units. The ordinance was cruising towards passage last month until realtors voiced objections, saying the language was too vague. By Monday night, realtors and council had smoothed over their concerns and reached a compromise.

Landlord Robert Blasiney is content with the system, but says he would have preferred more responsibility placed on tenants.

“The landlords will probably do a little bit better screening and some of these people that are causing the problems will be eliminated and the city won’t have to deal with them then,” Blasiney said.

The controversial urban deer hunting ordinance was brought back to council chambers after opponents gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters. Council first had to vote on whether or not to repeal the ordinance. This failed 3 to 4, thus allowing the issue to be placed on next April’s ballot.

Hunting opponent Stephen Stigers likes the odds that voters will turn down urban bow hunting.

“I feel very confident. I think we showed that with getting many, many more signatures than we needed in about half the time required,” Stigers said.

During the study session, council heard proposals about two new topics of interest: underage drinking and scooter safety.

In order to crack down on underage drinking, community and Southeast Missouri State University leaders proposed an ordinance that limits access to bars for those under 21 years of age.

Under the proposal, bars and other establishments that get the majority of their revenue from alcohol sales would have to remove the under-21 crowd after 10:00 p.m.

Southeast Missouri State University president Ken Dobbins says there have been some very serious alcohol incidents this semester, both with students and non-students.

“Over 0.2 blood alcohol, which is fairly significant and very dangerous and I don’t think students really understand that. And that’s what we’re trying to address,” Dobbins said.

Councilman Trent Summers says the proposal sounds like a reasonable way to attack the problem, but he still needs to learn more about the severity of the issue.

“I definitely am interested in discussion. Right now I really don’t have any red flags for it. I’m interested in seeing the level of the problem that we have now,” Summers said.

Community and university leaders also brought proposals for scooter safety. This discussion comes after a Southeast student was killed last month when her scooter was hit by a truck.

The university’s public safety director Doug Richards told council the number of scooter drivers has exploded in recent years. Two years ago, there were 51 registered scooters on campus. Now there are 352 registered scooters, and university officials estimate the real number may be as high as 510.

Currently there are no safety requirements for scooter drivers.

Some of the safety proposals include helmet, goggle, and insurance requirements, proper lighting systems, and license plates, according to Southeast president Ken Dobbins.

“I think that the council is just going to have to look at what are the best ways of protecting the citizens, not just the ones that are riding, but those, for example, that are driving and might not be able to see the scooters,” Dobbins said.

President Dobbins says the university will contemplate adopting helmet and eyewear requirements for on-campus scooter drivers. The university recently moved scooter parking to the periphery of campus to keep scooters away from more heavily-congested areas. 

Southeast junior Mitchell Brenner is a finance major from De Soto. He disapproves of perimeter scooter parking and is afraid regulations would eliminate scooters’ convenience. He sees the logic behind helmet laws, but feels it should be a personal choice.

“If I wreck my scooter, it affects me. It hurts me. Let me make the decision,” Brenner said.

City Council instructed staff to draft ordinances for both the alcohol and scooter safety issues.