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Lexington County Council to hold public hearing on Loitering ordinance

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – The Lexington County Council will hear from the public regarding the loitering ordinance it is working on soon. They have scheduled that meeting for Tuesday, October 23, 2018 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the council’s chambers. This is located at 212 South Lake Drive in Lexington on the second floor.

Councilman Bobby Keisler introduced the ordinance after hearing from his constituents regarding people congregating around the entrances to businesses and in their driveways. In many cases, these people are asking for money as customers try to enter or exit the businesses. Currently, the ordinance is a draft, but it will have another reading at the next council meeting. The fact that it is a draft means it could change before its final passage.

In its current form, the ordinance defines loitering as remaining idle in essentially one location, spending time idly, or loafing, or walking around aimlessly in a public place. This would include vacant lots or the private property of someone else that is unattended. Additionally, you would be loitering if you create, or cause to be created, any disturbance or annoyance to the comfort and repose of any person. People would also be loitering if they create a danger to the breach of the peace or obstruct or hinder the free passage of vehicles or pedestrians. They also cannot obstruct or interfere with any person lawfully in any public place, engage in begging or panhandling, gamble, prostitution, or solicit or engage in any business, trade, or commercial transaction unless they are specifically authorized or licensed to do so. This could prevent people from saying they’re a skilled craftsman and then doing sub-standard work while trying to scam someone. In addition to these activities, the person could not use or possess unlawful drugs or have beverages like beer, wine, or alcohol on them. Anyone guilty of loitering may be asked to leave that place. If they refuse, they may be charged under this ordinance and could be subject to punishment at the discretion of the Magistrate’s Court.

Keisler has said many times that this ordinance is in no way an attack on the poor or homeless. Lexington County has shelters for homeless veterans, food pantries, and other agencies, churches, and people that will assist someone that truly is in need. He also said that Lexington County donates thousands to the Midland’s Housing Alliance annually, an organization that works with the homeless.

Anyone who would like to comment on the ordinance should try and be at the public hearing on the 23rd.

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