Soliciting ordinance change likely
Street solicitors and panhandlers in Henrico County are likely to be out of luck next month – again.
The county’s Board of Supervisors Oct. 23 is expected to adopt changes to its no-soliciting ordinance that will close a loophole created the last time the ordinance was amended, in 2008.
The 2008 amendments made it illegal for anyone to distribute materials, solicit or sell (or attempt to sell) items while standing within any roadway or median in the county.
But it didn’t prevent individuals from engaging in those activities while sitting or lying down in a median or roadway. New language to be considered by the board next month would make such activities illegal altogether and also would prohibit the sale or attempted sale of services in all medians and roads.
In recent months, the number of solicitors in Henrico has increased noticeably, particularly in well-traveled northern and western corridors including West Broad Street and Staples Mill Road.
Supervisors and police have received a number of complaints from citizens who object to being asked for money, but in most cases police officers are unable to write tickets to the offenders because they are sitting down.
During a work session Sept. 11, officials emphasized that while the proposed changes should reduce the public nuisance factor, they are designed foremost to make things safer.
Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon recounted a recent experience of her own, during which she witnessed a car strike a median while making a turn, which caused a solicitor sitting in the median to jump up into a travel lane on the opposite side of the road.
“This is totally about safety,” O’Bannon said of the proposed ordinance changes.
In 2011, police received 97 calls related to soliciting and made six arrests (including two of the same person), County Attorney Joe Rapisarda told the board. Already through the first eight months of this year, police have received 93 calls and made two arrests.
Individuals cited for violation of the ordinance face a maximum fine of $250. The ordinance does not impact activities on sidewalks, Rapisarda said.
Henrico Police Maj. Stephen Alloway told the board that one man who solicits at the West Broad Street-Pouncey Tract Road intersection in Short Pump made $60,000 through his efforts in a year.
Prior to the 2008 ordinance change, the county was only able to enforce its standards on county roads or at intersections that involved two or more county roads. It lacked the authority to enforce the ordinance on state roads (those with route numbers) in the county, or at intersections involving at least one state road.
But that year, Henrico won permission from the General Assembly to add state roads to the list of those on which it could enforce its ordinance.
Two years later, the General Assembly authorized all localities to adopt similar ordinances.
If the board adopts the new language, the revised ordinance would be effectively immediately, Rapisarda said.
Citizen Staff Reports 10/12/2015
HandsOn Day 2015, which will feature 1200 volunteers serving more than 65 nonprofits in Greater Richmond, will take place Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among the projects in Henrico or surrounding communities that need volunteers are: installing GardenFest lights Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, distribution center assistance at Feedmore, pumpkin carving with residents at SupportOne, work and play at Housing Families First, paint for independence at Heart Havens, spruce up the shelter and clean sweep at Harbor House at Safe Harbor, pinwheel project at REAP and Kidney Walk prep at National Kidney Foundation Serving VA. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 10/12/2015
Virginians who want to plant beneficial plants for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds have a new resource at their fingertips. The online Virginia Native Plant Finder now lets users search for native plant species that benefit pollinators. The tool, which is managed by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, is free and easy to use; searches can be completed on desktops, tablets or smartphones.
Native plants are those that grow where they evolved; they have traits that enable them to adapt to local conditions. The Virginia Native Plant Finder lets users create their own custom native plant lists by selecting from dropdown menus. > Read more.
Henrico County Recreation and Parks is hosting a concert by The Volunteers of the United States Army Field Band on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Henrico Theatre, 305 East Nine Mile Road in Highland Springs. This free concert will be held at 7 p.m. and will feature Soldier-Musicians from the U.S. Army Field Band.
Since its inception in 1981, The Volunteers has been telling the Army story through rock, pop, country, and patriotic music. Its members have performed for millions of listeners in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Kuwait, and Iraq. This group tours more than 100 days each year, bringing a powerful message of patriotism and support to communities large and small. > Read more.
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