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Monday, July 7, 2014

Little Library Causes Big Zoning Controversy

Note: See an update on this story here.

City leaders in Leawood, Kansas tonight will take up 9-year-old Spencer Collins‘ Little Free Library.

Spencer Collins, 9, with his Little Free Library that a neighbor complained  was an eyesore and violated the town's zoning ordinances. (Sarah Collins)

Spencer Collins, 9, with his Little Free Library that a neighbor complained was an eyesore and violated the town’s zoning ordinances. (Sarah Collins)

The boy had put up a slightly larger than a birdfeeder box containing a free book exchange in his front yard, but a neighbor complained it was an eyesore and “an illegal detached structure” that violated the town’s zoning ordinances.

The city originally told the boy that the Little Free Library he had in front of his house violated the city ban on unattached buildings in front yards, but agreed to discuss the ordinance at the City Council meeting tonight.

Spencer Collins and his dad Brian Collins, who will defend their Little Free Library at tonight’s Leawood City Council meeting, speak with Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Todd Bol, executive director of the nonprofit organization Little Free Library, which sells and registers little libraries, says these kinds of zoning fights usually end up embarrassing town leaders.

Interview Highlights

Brian Collins on being told the library was an eyesore that violated city codes

“We were out of town and when we got back we got a courtesy letter from the city of Leawood telling us the Little Free Library is illegal and that we had until June 19th to take it down or receive a citation.”

Spencer Collins on the positive impacts of the Little Free Library

“It benefits reading and, as my mom says, it really benefits the community.”

Todd Bol on the major success of Little Free Library

“This has, hopefully, a major impact on improving literacy throughout the country. We planned on passing Andrew Carnegie [who built 2,509 libraries] and we thought that it would take until 2016 and we did it — we built 2510 by August of 2012. So our next goal is to pass McDonald’s. When we hit about 55,000 libraries we’re gonna put a sign on the library that says, ‘Billions and billions read.’ You know, more books than burgers. We thought that’d be great.”

Guests

  • Spencer and Brian Collins, son and father team defending their Little Free Library.
  • Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library. Little Free Library tweets @LtlFreeLibrary.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Gimme a break! Really, what has this come to?

  • guest

    hahahaha grow up kansas. LFL’s are all over portland, we even have one made up like the TARDIS. i think the family who owns this box should fill it up with Bibles and see what the city does then.

    • methos1999

      haha that’s awesome – should do them in themes, so the TARDIS would be the sci-fi section.

  • Mike Mastela

    In Kansas apparently a “detached structure” is anything that the city or state can get a permit for that doesn’t have to be big enough to house a human or have power or plumbing… pretty sad state of affairs. How is this different from a mailbox from an architectural perspective?

    • Guest

      before I looked at the check of $8543 , I accept
      …that…my neighbour woz like they say truley earning money parttime on their
      apple labtop. . there sisters neighbour has done this 4 only 19 months and by
      now cleared the debts on their house and bourt a gorgeous Ford . visit this
      site C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • Tim Weitzel

    It is typical for most jurisdictions to set a maximum height or square footage under which no permit is needed. The city Zoning Code allows detached structures and their Board of
    Zoning Appeals handles variances to that code as recently as June, 25,
    2014.

  • Mike young

    I agree Gimme a break! Maybe put it on wheels. Get around the code.

  • Dave Babatz

    I am befuddled how they classify this “book shelf” as a structure. Does Leawood restrict lawn furniture in front yards, as well?

  • Lurchie

    An “eyesore?!” REALLY?! Someone needs to lighten up. . .

  • J__o__h__n

    Isn’t Kansas an eyesore? At least according to the photo they are finally in color now.

  • methos1999

    Neighbor sounds like he/she needs to pull the corn stalk out of their rear end and lighten up – what’s next they’re going to call the health inspector over a lemonade stand?

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