Two months ago, Fairlawn City Council passed legislation that regulates panhandlers and requires them to register with the Fairlawn Police Department. The panhandlers are not allowed to stand at corners or within 25 feet of an intersection, business entrance or exit, bus stop, bank, church or school.
As a result, several of the panhandlers who worked in Fairlawn moved over to the Montrose area, which is mostly comprised of Copley and Bath Township. The Bath Township border starts at the intersection of West Market and Cleveland-Massillon Road, at the Speedway gas station. This intersection is out of Fairlawn's police jurisdiction, said Fairlawn Council President Russ Sharnsky.
"Many people were concerned when Fairlawn enacted their restrictions on panhandlers," said Township Administrator Bill Snow. "Some thought it caused us to have more of a problem and as an Ohio township, we cannot enact those same provisions. We asked the Summit County Executive and council to move on our behalf."
Police chief Michael McNeely said there haven't been many issues with panhandlers other than minor verbal fights over an intersection. Police continue to monitor the panhandlers to make sure they aren't disrupting the flow of traffic, McNeely said.
If approved, the county legislation will extend to the Summit's nine townships. The council started the legislation debate Monday night.
In addition to requiring panhandlers to register and wear a safety vest, the legislation will bar them from begging within 25 feet of intersections, shopping plaza entrances, bus stops, ATMs, banks, restaurants, gas stations, liquor stores, public restrooms, convenience stores, check-cashing businesses and self-service car washes, which is very similar to Fairlawn's enacted ordinances, the Beacon reports.
"We're just looking for increased security for our residents and the legislation provides a better handle on this," Snow said. "They can panhandle, but we'd like to see their registration. It really evens up the playing field from Fairlawn to Bath Township."