SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A Spartanburg County councilman reacted Monday night to a revised public nuisance ordinance proposal.
It’s aimed at dealing with what the council considers nuisance activity at nightclubs and other businesses in the county.
A past version of the ordinance had been criticized as discriminatory.
The new version of a public nuisance ordinance received an initial vote of approval at Monday night’s council meeting.
It seeks to expands the tools available to law and code enforcement officials to appropriately deal with businesses whose condition and conduct negatively impact their neighbors and threaten the public’s safety.
Councilman Michael Brown said he liked what he’s seen so far.
“It’s an initial start. It’s definitely not what was being proposed,” said Brown after the vote on the first reading of the ordinance.
Brown was one of the first to express concern over a nightclub ordinance postponed by council earlier this year.
Even though this newly worded public nuisance ordinance contains components of that older version, he’s pleased with the revisions being presented now.
“Business owners can’t predict what people will do. You can try to make it as safe as possible,” said Brown.
The county administrator and attorneys say they have sought to eliminate any unintended consequences that may unreasonably burden business owners.
This new version establishes definitions of public nuisance which Brown said can have a lot of gray areas.
“If we have information from the owner that said hey unfortunately people come in our parking lot they’re leaving, they’re loud, they may then choose to drink out of their car and the neighbors notice this and they were to call. Would that be a fair process? We need to hear those kinds of things,” said Brown.
The ordinance said “this structure is designed to target those businesses whose conduct creates a disproportionately high call volume for public safety.
The ordinance would also enable a criminal fine of not exceeding $500 and imprisonment not exceeding 30 days if found guilty of this misdemeanor by the courts.
Brown said the threshold for public safety calls made before consideration for being closed would be six calls in a year.
But, Brown said the proposal establishes guidelines that would have the county hitting the re-start button on the number of law enforcement calls at the beginning of every calendar year.
Monday night’s vote of approval was just the first reading.
They’ll have two more votes and a public hearing before anything’s set in stone.
Councilman brown also said he understands law enforcement wants to have an opportunity to address situations with some speed and immediacy.
He said he just wants to make sure there’s due process for business owners from all areas of the community.