Panhandlers in Fairlawn will have to buy a permit and follow some new rules if they want to continue the practice. Fairlawn City Council passed two ordinances last night that are intended to regulate panhandlers.
"We've received numerous complaints from both residents and nonresidents concerning the issue of panhandlers and some of the aggressive and safety issues," said Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth.
Roth says anyone who wants to panhandle will have to get a permit from the city first. Also, they won't be allowed to do things like stand at intersections or near ATMs.
Why didn't Fairlawn City Council just ban panhandling altogether?
"It's my understand that the Supreme Court of the United States, believe it or not, said that panhandling is a protected 1st Amendment right, so you really can't outlaw panhandling and that's not our attempt," said Roth. "Our intent is to regulate it."
Roth says panhandlers could also get arrested if they do things that are likely to make a prospective donor feel intimidated.
Fairlawn City Council is considering an ordinance to regulate panhandling.
Mayor Bill Roth tells AkronNewsNow there has been a steady increase in panhandling in the city. " I'd say that in the past year to year and a half we've seen it slowly building. Obviously the economy is terrible out there. People are trying to do some self-help. But we do have some concerns, basically traffic concerns. West Market Street is a very heavily traveled road. Our main concern is safety, mainly obviously for the residents, but also for the people who drive through the city of Fairlawn, and walk through the city. But also for the individuals panhandling. We have concerns about making sure they don't step into traffic, that they don't approach moving cars," says Roth.
Roth says Fairlawn's Law Director and Police Chief are studying the legalities of the proposed legislation before council gets a chance to vote on it.
He emphasizes that the city is not trying to ban panhandling , just regulate it. " The Ohio Supreme Court says panhandling can't be banned, however it can be regulated," says Roth.
Fairlawn joins Akron which has taken time on a proposed panhandling ordinance that would limit how close panhandlers could stand next to expressway ramps and main street corners.
Bill Roth says Fairlawn should have a panhandling ordinance on the books by summer.
Fairlawn city council will vote today to approve a 3% pay raise for city employees.
Council members introduced the legislation earlier this month. City employees received their last pay raise in 2009.
"We're able to do this because we've been able to cut back on staffing levels," said Roth. "We've had several employees retire we're basically not filing those positions."
Roth says the labor agreements include full-time police, the service department and the part-time bargaining unit.
"We've had several adjustments through the years. With the cooperation with the union, we've been able to save the city some money and I believe this is a fair agreement for both sides.
Mayor Bill Roth says council will vote today to approve each of the five labor agreements. The raises will take into effect January 1st.
The city of Fairlawn has erected the first barriers on Rothrock Road at Sawgrass Road today to stem the flow of through traffic on Rothrock.It's part of Fairlawn's reaction to Wal-Mart planning to build a new store and Sam's Club along the roadway in Copley.
Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth tells AkronNewsNow " There are seven lawsuits pending, Fairlawn's party to only two of them, but due to the litigation the barriers that are going up now are what they call temporary barriers."
Roth says the courts will determine whether Fairlawn can later erect permanent barricades.
He wants motorists who access the current businesses on Rothrock to use West Market Street instead of Cleveland-Massillon to Rothrock, because he says eventually Rothrock could be permanently closed to through traffic.
Fairlawn was given the green light to install the barriers when Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty turned down Copley Township's request for a temporary restraining order to keep the barriers from going up. Copley officials claim the barricades are aimed at trying to stop Wal-Mart from building the new stores on Rothrock , and closing their two current stores in Rosemont Commons in Fairlawn.
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