WILMINGTON — The city has a new law regulating the place and manner of people who ask for money, and protecting the privacy of somebody using an ATM.
In terms of places that affect the legality of asking for money, a key factor is whether the solicitation takes place in the public right-of-way because there it interferes with the flow of motor vehicles and also raises traffic safety concerns, according to the wording of the newly adopted ordinance.
Wilmington Director of Public Service and Public Safety Brian A. Shidaker, who is an attorney, said the law’s restrictions apply, for example, to a solicitor who approaches a motorist at a traffic light in the right-of-way. But the law does not apply to a solicitor who approaches a traveler while he or she is pumping gas — unless the gas station property owner has told the solicitor they’re not permitted to solicit there.
Because of the constitutional right of free speech, a solicitor can engage with the occupant of a vehicle that is in a right-of-way as long as the solicitor remains on the surrounding sidewalks or unpaved shoulders and not on the right-of-way itself. So, it’s still permissible for people to stand next to the exit by McDonald’s restaurant in Wilmington so long as they stay out of the right-of-way.
Aggressive “panhandling” is, in part, defined in the city’s new law as a solicitor touching or grabbing the other person, or following the other person and continuing to ask them for money after they have said no.
Door-to-door solicitation has been limited in the ordinance to the hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April through October, and the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November through March.
The ATM privacy section states that no person is allowed, without consent, to approach within three feet of somebody who is using an automated teller machine.
City Council unanimously passed the new law.
In other city business at Thursday’s meeting of council, Shidaker announced plans to launch a restoration and preservation project for old headstones at city-owned Sugar Grove Cemetery. In the project, citizens will be able to donate money to the cemetery fund for the purpose of restoring headstones.
Shidaker currently is “looking into the legalities of all that.”
Residents soon will be able to see how much is possible when restoring old headstones, and Shidaker encourages people to do just that. This week, Clinton County commissioners approved spending $12,600 to restore 42 small headstones within the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial Triangle in Sugar Grove Cemetery. By law, the board of county commissioners is responsible for the upkeep of cemetery sections set apart for veterans within the county.
But tombstones in cemetery sections not expressly set apart for veterans are not similarly covered. Those headstones would be the ones targeted for preservation in the project Shidaker announced Thursday at city council.
Shidaker described the Sugar Grove Cemetery as “a crown jewel in our city.”
Council held a first reading on a measure that will initiate a compost area tipping fee of $5 per cubic yard for haulers of yard waste. Yard waste includes brush, limbs, grass clippings and leaves.
This charge applies only to yard waste transported to the city dump for disposal. Small amounts of brush will continue to be picked up as part of the regular yard waste collection service, at no extra charge. Brush and limbs must be cut in no longer than 4-foot lengths and bundled with twine.
Of the proposed new fee, Solid Waste Committee Chairman Joe Spicer said haulers of yard waste often are people who have cut down a big tree and haul the pieces to the city dump.
“It cost us money to have it mulched up and get somebody to haul it away. We are trying to cover our costs, and trying to keep the cost [to the resident] reasonable,” said Spicer.
Also at council:
• City Council President Randy Riley said the anniversary of 9/11 will be observed outside City Hall on Friday, Sept. 9 because the 11th falls on a Sunday. The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the municipal parking lot that sits between the city building and the Friends Church.
Riley added that the Wilmington American Legion Post 49 will hold a ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. at the American Legion facility.
• The Ohio History Connection, as part of its statewide landmark buildings series, will sponsor an “Open Doors” at The Murphy Theatre, said Riley. The event, set for 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, will include tours of the 98-year-old building.
• Resident Paul Hunter asked city officials to start thinking about what they will do if there are not 259 jobs connected to the JUMP hangar at the air park as stipulated in a pre-construction agreement. He said the source of funds for the city to offset what local schools lost in tax revenue “is from that hangar’s new hire revenues.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.