During its Sept. 13 public hearing, the Town Council approved 6 to 1, with Ann Null opposing, an antisolicitation ordinance to be used in conjunction with the recently approved day-labor site.
The approval amends the town code to make it illegal for any person to find work or offer work from an alley, curb, driveway, highway, parking area or sidewalk. It also prevents such activity while in a car, on a bicycle or by foot.
"The crux of this ordinance is to stop the automobile solicitation," said Mayor Michael O'Reilly during the hearing.
Through the day labor application public hearing process, many of the council members said the antisolicitation ordinance was jut one tool out of many to help the site be successful. Another legal tool the council is scheduled to debate is a trespass ordinance.
With the approval of the amendment, the council will be able to direct the police to ticket citizens who are attempting to get work away from the regulated day-labor site. The police will also be able to ticket employers who are trying to hire workers off-site.
If a person is caught soliciting employment or soliciting workers once the site is up and operational they will be guilty of a class two misdemeanor. Penalties include up to a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail or both, according to Richard Kaufman, town attorney. If the council finds these punishments are not sufficient, they can amend the ordinance to add stricter penalties, he said.
"This is much needed to help us address the issues we currently have," said Council member Steven Mitchell during the hearing.
"I don't see this as a help," said Null, "and see this as opening another possibility for more lawsuits."
Before voting O'Reilly noted by voting against the antisolicitation ordinance council members would in fact be "voting in favor of keeping the current unregulated behavior" that is occurring at the 7-Eleven at Alabama Drive and Elden Street.