By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Six revised ordinances pertaining to graffiti, public urination, destruction of property, unregistered vehicles and bullying via telecommunications will become law in the city no later than April 11.
The City Council, during six public hearings March 22, adopted six revised ordinances during their regular meeting. The only ordinance revision that generated opposition was one that prohibited malicious use of service provided by telecommunications.
“You are going to go ahead and get yourself into trouble,” said resident Ray Magusin, claiming that the city is prohibiting the freedom of speech with the ordinance that added telecommunications to the ordinance to terrorize, harass or annoy others. “The lawyers are going to love this. That’s all I got to say.”
Clerk Mike Mizzi said the ordinance already exists, all the council did was add telecommunications to the ordinance.
City Attorney Joe Couvreur said he understood Magusin’s concerns, but the ordinance isn’t a violation of the freedom of speech.
“It talks about maliciously using intent to terrorize, harass, molest or annoy,” Couvreur said, adding that “annoy” was kind of vague.
“Some people have been terrorized and that’s what this is about,” Couvreur said.
Mayor William Matakas said it made sense to add the telecommunication item.
The ordinance passed unanimously.
Limited parking for unregistered vehicles was the only one of the six ordinances that didn’t have full council support. The revised ordinance allowed 48 hours for unregistered vehicles parked in the city while the previous ordinance didn’t allocate a time limit. Councilman Angelo DeGiulio said 48 hours isn’t enough time for businesses such as repair shops to get the vehicles towed out of the city.
Couvreur said police seize the abandoned vehicles, and the amended ordinance is another tool for them.
The council adopted prohibiting graffiti in the city, then moved to amend the destruction of property ordinance – making both misdemeanor offenses. Both passed with ease.
Couvreur also read an ordinance to make most state misdemeanor offenses the same in the city. He said the ordinance would include all state law misdemeanors. He said there are certain criminal acts that the state deems criminal, but a local ordinance is needed or else the city has to use a state law to prosecute such offenses.
Lastly, the council tackled public urination. While the crime is still a crime, it will be a municipal civil infraction. Couvreur said that previously it was an offense that would land someone on the sex registry.
“It means they will pay a fine, but it won’t damage them for life,” Couvreur said of the revised ordinance.
The council agreed that it only applies to urination and doesn’t extend to someone who defecates and spreads the feces on a building, as had happened recently. That person was charged with malicious destruction of property.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at email@example.com.)