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Panhandling law in effect for townships

8/1/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Panhandlers in the Bath and Copley areas of Montrose will now be required to comply with a new county ordinance that Summit County Council members adopted July 29.

With County Executive Russ Pry’s signature on July 30 the ordinance went into effect and set parameters for where people can ask for money in all of the county’s townships.

The ordinance prohibits panhandling within 25 feet of intersections, crosswalks, entrances to and exits from shopping plazas or districts, commercial and business establishments, libraries, churches and schools (both public and private) and service stations, as well as automated teller machines, bus stops and sidewalk/outdoor cafés.

It also prohibits panhandling on public transportation and on privately owned property in which the owner has posted a sign prohibiting the activity.

Anyone who violates the ordinance is subject to a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $100.

In addition, the ordinance deals with aggressive panhandling, which is defined as “acting in a manner that a reasonable person would find intimidating.” The fine for that is up to $250, and the offense is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

At the meeting to express his support was Bath Township Administrator Vito Sinopoli, who said he was happy to see the ordinance adopted.

“I think it will provide our communities and law enforcement another tool to address the issue of panhandling,” Sinopoli said.

He added he had been hearing from Bath Township residents who were concerned with panhandling activity taking place in the Montrose area. Chief among the concerns is safety, especially when a driver stops in traffic to give money to a panhandler.

Sinopoli said Akron and Fairlawn had already enacted legislation regarding panhandling, but the townships were without any ordinance until now. He said some communities, like Copley, used existing traffic laws to put a stop to panhandling, but having the ordinance now makes it more consistent for Summit County townships to deal with the issue.

After the meeting, Sinopoli said even though the ordinance is now in effect, he didn’t expect enforcement to begin immediately.

“I’m going to review this with our police department and explain to the officers what the law provides and its enforcement mechanisms,” he said.

Officers also will share the information with panhandlers frequenting Montrose, he said.

In other business, introduced as a late filing but not discussed was an ordinance that would increase the county’s Animal Control dog licensing fees and provide multi-year licensing options.

As proposed, the ordinance would raise the annual fee for a dog license to $18 from the current $14 and raise kennel fees from $50 to $80. Also proposed is a lowering of the dog adoption fee from $90 to $76, plus the cost of the license. The ordinance will be discussed during the next Rules Committee meeting.

Also introduced was a resolution that would reduce the number of members of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board to 14 from the current 18.

In addition, Council adopted a new investment policy for the county’s Investment Advisory Board. Revising policies adopted in October 2011, the new legislation would allow investments in debt interest issued by foreign nations, according to county officials.

Council also adopted:

  • a contract renewal with Inmate Calling Solutions LLC for inmate pay phone services at the Summit County Jail, for the contract year beginning July 15 through July 14, 2014, at a commission rate of 70 percent;
  • a resolution stating condominium residents on Creekstone Parkway and Clifford Drive in Copley be assessed individually for drainage maintenance $119 annually;
  • amending appropriations by $7,000 to allow money not needed for parking deck maintenance to pay for the demolition of the Veterans Service Commission’s former offices on Park Street; and
  • two pieces of legislation related to the county’s land bank, the Summit County Land Reutilization Corp. (SCLRC), that would amend the county’s codified ordinances to give the county fiscal officer and county executive authority to provide administrative services to the SCLRC and authorize a three-year agreement between the land bank and the county.

Council will meet for committee meetings Aug. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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