Council takes on nuisances, panhandling

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Changes are a response to recent complaints

By Stevie Lowery

Public nuisances and panhandling were two of the main topics discussed at the Lebanon City Council meeting Monday evening.
The council approved the first reading of an amendment to its property maintenance code to expand the list of conditions deemed to be public nuisances. The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance restricting panhandling.
In its amendment to its property maintenance code, several additions were made to address recent complaints, and the following will now be declared “public nuisances”: the obstruction of the storm water and drainage system with grass clippings and other debris, recreational vehicles that remain parked and are visible from the street and neighbors’ view (for more than two weeks) and indoor furniture that is located outdoors.
“This is to take care of a couple problems that we continue to have,” Lebanon City Attorney Kandice Engle-Gray said.
People putting grass clippings, leaves and other yard debris into the street are causing problems with the city’s drainage system, she said.
The complaint she hears the most about, however, is the parking of recreational vehicles that remain parked, for instance in a residence’s front yard, for a long period of time.
“RVs and boats are the ones I hear the most about,” Engle-Gray said.
According to the amendment, recreational vehicles will be required to be parked in a person’s back yard so they are not visible from the street or in a side or rear yard garage or covered carport which covers the vehicle. If a recreational vehicle is parked in an uncovered driveway it will not be allowed to remain parked there for more than two weeks, according to the amended ordinance.
Indoor furniture, which is located outdoors, will also be considered a public nuisance because it is exposed to the elements and is likely to decay or decompose, which causes a health hazard and lessens the value of neighboring properties.
The second ordinance the council approved restricts unwanted panhandling, which is an unwanted request or solicitation for money. That type of behavior has become a problem within the City of Lebanon, according to Mayor Gary Crenshaw.
This ordinance would not include roadblocks, however. It would specifically target unwanted solicitation. If a business or resident allows someone on their property for fundraising purposes, that would be allowable, Engle-Gray said.
“It has to be ‘unwanted’ solicitation,” she said. “At present, we do not have an ordinance that prohibits this type of behavior in any way. We don't really have a mechanism of how to deal with it.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
Both the amendment to the property maintenance code ordinance and the panhandling ordinance must have a second reading and be published in The Lebanon Enterprise before they take effect.

In other matters, council members:
• Voted to approve a noise variance for a kick-off to the Rosenwald Reunion, which will take place 6 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Aug. 22, on Edmonds Avenue in Lebanon. According to Agnes Williams, several neighborhoods will be getting together to celebrate. Williams also requested the city provide two Porta Johns and asked for permission to block off a portion of the road near the dead-end of Edmonds Avenue up to Lincoln Avenue.
• Voted to approve noise variances for Chaser's for Sept. 5 and Ham Days weekend.
• Discussed the Spooktacular Lunar 5k, which is scheduled to take place Saturday evening, Oct. 25, at Marion County High School. The race route will start on Patriots Way, go up Industrial Drive, turn around, and come back to its starting point. The route will include five stopping points along the way on Patriots Way, which will include Halloween candy, face-painting, etc. The event is a fundraiser being organized by the Marion County High School football team’s booster club. The council voted to approve the event pending Lebanon Police Chief Wally Brady's approval of the event’s route and time.
• Voted to approve noise variances for the annual Block Party on Aug. 29-31.
• Voted to approve road closures for the Turtleman 5K, which is scheduled to be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, March 14. The event will be exactly the same as the first Turtleman 5k, using the same route. The event is a fundraiser for Marion County High School baseball team’s booster club.