SMITHVILLE — After a brief discussion and appeal from the property owner to remove stipulations pertaining to when use can stop and use of a radio on the field, Smithville aldermen gave final approval Nov. 5, to a conditional use permit for a privately-owned athletic field on the Swearingins’ property on Northeast 144th Street.

The conditional use permit and issues with the private field were first addressed by city leaders last month after aldermen heard neighbor complaints about the field’s use. Complaints focused on the field not being used intermittently as it should be and that neighbors were disturbed by sounds associated with hours of weekly use by teams on the field.

Before approving the permit, property owner Andrew Swearingin appealed to aldermen to remove conditions added by city leaders that stated no sound systems could be used and that use of the field must stop after sunset, saying “sound systems” and “sunset” were vague terminology. Swearingin said he would like to be able to use a radio on the field and that it may still be light enough after sunset to use the field but that play would stop after dark as there is to be no lighting installed on the field.

“I think it should be handled like any other sound ordinance. Just because it’s being used for baseball, I don’t see any other reason why we can’t have a boombox out there,” he said.

Community Development Director Jack Hendrix provided clarification to aldermen about what constitutes a sound system after being questioned by Alderman John Chevalier, who said his idea of a sound system is a public address system, something where players are announced as they take the field.

“At this point, a sound system is defined as anything that emits sound,” said Hendrix.

Chevalier said he agrees with Swearingin that “sunset” is an arbitrary time and that he should be allowed to use a boombox on the field. He motioned to amend the permit language to change “sound system” to “public address system” and to strike the condition of “no such use may occur after sunset.”

Aldermen approved the changes and the final version of the permit 6-0, allowing the issuance of the permit unanimously.

Police Chief Jason Lockridge, for the sake of clarification for neighbors who have previously complained about noise, said the city’s peace disturbance ordinance would still apply to the property so even if those on the field used a radio, it could not be played as loud as they want.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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