Waterloo City Council panel votes for stricter ban on roadside memorials to honor loved ones

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WATERLOO, Iowa — The city should more clearly ban the display of roadside memorials to honor loved ones who have died, a Waterloo City Council panel said.

The three-member building and grounds committee unanimously voted Monday to recommend the adoption of an ordinance to clarify that such tributes are not allowed on public property. The measure is slated to go to the full seven-member council for consideration next week.

Under the ordinance, police or city officials could remove memorials situated along public sidewalks, roadways or rights of way owned or maintained by the city. Any items collected would be stored for 60 days, and could be thrown away if not claimed. Officers would also be granted the authority to issue municipal infraction citations to people who place the memorials.

Committee member David Jones said the council has received complaints about flowers, signs and other items left at sites where people died in automotive accidents. He said it's not "the highest priority item," but that it's something that needs to be addressed.

"I think we're being realistic and we're trying to be sensitive to the roadside memorials that have been placed," he said.

Pat Morrissey, another councilman on the committee, says he supported the move, but that he would like a provision permitting families to memorialize loved ones in a way that wouldn't interfere with city mowing and maintenance operations.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports city officials hesitate to enforce the ban currently in place out of respect and sensitivity to those who set up the displays. But others have protested that they can cause distractions for motorists.


Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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