City regulates street solicitors

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Columbus drivers may see a decline in roadway solicitors this summer.

One June 9, Columbus City Council passed an ordinance requiring that all organizations who plan to seek monetary donations on city roadways be required to obtain a permit.

Permits for roadway solicitors have been required in the past, although there were many exceptions to the rule.

“The current code is unclear,” said Councilmember Andrew J. Ginther, chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Ginther explained that current legislation requires many to groups to obtain a permit, but leaves exceptions for some organizations, including religious groups.

“The line is pretty murky,” said Ginther.

According to Ginther, permits for solicitors on the roadway are important, because they let police officers know where solicitors are.

“It’s not safe for people to be in the roadway when police officers do not know they are there,” said Ginther.

“With this new ordinance, public safety is enhanced, both for the solicitors and for the residents on the roadways giving donations,” he added.

The ordinance also helps to ensure that organizations seeking donations are actually using the money for charitable purposes.

Legislation regarding roadway solicitors first appeared last summer, and council held two public meetings on the topic in October. Though it was widely supported, there were also several residents who expressed concerns, mostly over the confusion as to who would be required to obtain permits.

“All of those who originally expressed concerns are now satisfied,” said Ginther.

Also at the meeting, council approved the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan, which outlines the addition of 538 miles of bike paths and other features throughout Columbus.

The plan will serve as a guideline for all decisions concerning the zoning, planning of future bikeway facilities and capital improvements.

The plan incorporates a “complete street” concept, which ensures that roadways within the city are accommodating to all modes of transportation, ranging from motorized automobiles to pedestrians.

It calls for a three-phase development process, which will take place over the next 20 years. The first phase of the plan calls for 100 miles of bike paths in Columbus by 2012.

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