After a lengthy discussion at Monday’s regular meeting, the Hillsdale City Council took the next step toward setting an ordinance aimed at curbing homeless encampments on public property.
The council voted to set a May 15th public hearing on the camping ordinance; It’ll be held during that evening’s regular council meeting.
The Public Safety Committee referred the ordinance to the council, following a meeting last week.
Councilman Rob Socha said he brought the draft ordinance to the committee for further discussion.
He said the Public Safety Committee is seeing quite a bit of reaction on both sides of the issue.
Councilman Joshua Palladino, Monday night, questioned whether the ordinance is even necessary.
He asked whether the city could curb the encampments by simply enforcing park hours.
City attorney Tom Thompson said it’s necessary to set an ordinance with specific penalties in order to make the rules enforceable.
The proposed ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to set up camp on public property.
It would also be illegal to loiter for more than an hour in one place in the public right-of-way.
Violators would face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Councilman Greg Stuchell advised against softening the ordinance, which he said would lead to the city “becoming a big campground” over the summer.
He said the ordinance may also help in forcing the city’s homeless residents to seek help from human service organizations.