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Cruising law on hold

September 14, 2000

Cruising law on hold



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


A proposed law to stop drivers from cruising Washington and Franklin streets in downtown Hagerstown is on hold while city lawyers review the legislation, which is being pushed by the mayor.

City Council members asked Tuesday to have the city lawyers review the proposed law and then return for future talks on the matter. It was unclear Tuesday whether a majority of the council would support an anti-cruising ordinance.

Councilmen Alfred W. Boyer and J. Wallace McClure said they would support an anti-cruising law.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he wasn't against the proposed law at this time, but he would rather find ways to encourage cruisers to stay out of downtown than pass a new law.

Metzner added he did "not want to be party to another law to fight a losing war on drugs."

One reason Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II has given for proposing the ordinance is because he believes those cruising the streets provide good cover for those looking to buy illegal drugs along East Washington and East Franklin streets.

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Bruchey said he wants to target drivers who cruise East Washington and East Franklin streets downtown. The mayor says noise from the vehicles, their stereos, and the people riding in the vehicles lowers the quality of life of the residents of the streets where drivers cruise.

Council members William M. Breichner and Susan Saum-Wicklein wanted a legal opinion on the proposed law.

City Police Chief Arthur Smith said under the proposed ordinance that drivers would still be able to cruise the Dual Highway. Smith said the cruisers would be encouraged to use Cleveland Avenue to turn around instead of going through the downtown.

Smith said the law would be similar to a Chambersburg, Pa. anti-cruising ordinance and "could well offer some relief to the residents of our downtown area."

Smith said that in recent weekend traffic enforcements he's seen that the cruisers make up a small percentage of the vehicles traveling through downtown early in the evening. But by 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. almost every vehicle on East Washington and East Franklin streets is cruising, he said.

Under the Borough of Chambersburg cruising ordinance, cruising is defined as driving past a point in the designated no-cruising area three or more times within any two-hour period between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. from April 1 through Nov. 1. Violators are subject to a fine of $50 to $600, or 30 days in jail.

Smith said the Hagerstown anti-cruising ordinance would be enforced with a citation, meaning violators would not be arrested for that offense.

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