My youngest daughter sees the world differently than most. To her, the things she collects are valuable, not junk. This presents a problem when the community we live in has a low tolerance for creativity.
The city of Independence spent 45 days this fall giving us tickets to reinforce the idea that creativity is not allowed. I am not arguing with this concept, just the harassment this produced.
My daughter had to find somewhere else to live, but tried to meet the city’s expectations. She cleaned up the yard and put everything in two canvas garages. Then a representative from the codes department told her the garages had to be moved five feet from the fence.
OK, then everything has to be put into the yard again to dismantle the garages and move them in five feet. Then she returned her collections back to the garages.
Next, a person from the Community Development Department came out and said, “Oh no, you can’t have canvas garages in the city of Independence. You must get rid of them.” So, Sherri unloaded both garages and now everything is all over the yard again.
Who shows up – another representative from the Code Department came out and wrote us another ticket.
Now we have a mess in the yard and Sherri decided to have a yard sale to find a “home” for some of her collection. Then the fall rains begin!
In the midst of this, her 15-year-old son brought home a dog that he bought with his money and no notice to us. A loveable three-foot-high puppy. The puppy broke loose from his chain and someone reported it to the city. Now animal control is calling and says the dog must have vaccinations and a license to stay in the city.
So my daughter left the yard sale and took the dog for shots, then went to the animal control office for the license. Then the animal-control officer said she would have to look at the dog. The officer shows up at 5 p.m. and says, “This is a pit bull and cannot be in Independence.” My daughter was required to sign a form that said she would remove the dog from the city immediately or the officer was taking the dog. So my daughter contacted some friends outside of the city and removed the dog. All of this took several hours away from the yard cleanup.
It still continued to rain daily!
I rented a dumpster and said fill this up. Then the dog reappears. Her friend is tired of him. Someone reported this and the animal-control officer writes another ticket. The dog is taken to another friend out of Independence, resulting in more hours of lost clean-up time.
The yard sale is still going on, the rain is still falling, but slowly the yard is looking better.
I complained about two city departments taking us to court over the same thing, so one of the departments changed their complaint to people living outside structures. No one is living in any of the outside structures, tents, shed or trailer.
At no time did I argue that the items in the yard should stay. I paid money to rent a dumpster. My daughter had to find a place to live.
The contract on the house she is buying went through in December, and she has been moving in all this ice, snow and freezing cold temperatures. The city has just spent unnecessary time harassing us.
This is all I wanted to do: just keep my daughter and her family off the street, I couldn’t bear the thought of them being homeless like so many I see wandering around. This is my violation, I love my daughter and her family too much. Isn’t that what a mother is supposed to do?
Martha Hamm lives in Independence.