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.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
The past couple of days haven’t felt like it, but it’s finally December and this weekend is packed with holiday events. Kicking the weekend off is Glorious Christmas Nights’ production of “Finding Christmas” at West End Assembly of God. Gayton Baptist Church’s annual Jazz Nativity starts tonight. Another annual favorite is tomorrow – the tree lighting at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. In search of Christmas concerts? The Virginians Barbershop Chorus will present its annual Christmas Show tomorrow at the Collegiate School and the Richmond Choral Society will perform Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on the second Monday and every Thursday of the month at various libraries. Ward Howarth will share his book “River City Blues” at Libbie Mill Library. For details, visit http://www.henricolibrary.org/authors. Full text