Council approves demolition, fire alarm penalties, pet crematorium

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Topeka City Council approved the demolition of three downtown buildings to make way for a downtown plaza Tuesday night.

The council voted 8-1 to tear down the buildings at 618, 630, and 632 S. Kansas Avenue. Sylvia Ortiz voted no, Sandra Clear was absent.

The Topeka Landmarks Commission voted against tearing them down, saying it conflicted with city law on use of an historic district.

Councilman Brendan Jenson called the plaza “critical to the city’s future.” Chairman of the Downtown Topeka Foundation, Pat Michaelis says he’s also pleased with the vote.

“It means we can take the next step,” said Michaelis. “Without their vote it would have sort of stopped us in our tracks. We own the land, we're fundraising, we have designs for that particular spot so it allows us to go forward."

Demolition could begin as early as January 2019.

Businesses will soon have to pay up for repeat false fire alarms.

Council members approved an ordinance that will allow the city to penalize commercial properties who repeatedly have false alarms.

Fire officials have said poor maintenance often is to blame for the false alarms, taking time for those calls put others’ safety at risk.

Fines begin after three false alarms and would increase depending on the number of violations.

Wichita, Salina, Manhattan, Emporia, Overland Park and Leawood all have similar ordinances.

The council also approved a facility expansion for Heavenly Pet Memorials Crematorium located at 1137 SW Gage Blvd.

The business will be able to build another cremator and a building to host it. According to city documents, the proposed cremator is anticipated to have no visible emissions or detectable odors.