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Cruising law could stay put

August 24, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who cast the only vote against creation of the Hagerstown anti-cruising law in 2000, said he plans to vote Tuesday to remove the law's sunset clause.

As written, the cruising law would expire Oct. 1.

At Tuesday's council work session, Metzner said he is prepared to "eat crow" because he now supports the law.

Prior to the law's passage, Metzner questioned whether the law would be effective and said it seems wrong to ban a legal activity in an attempt to catch criminals.

But Metzner said he has been impressed with how the law has been enforced and how effective it has been.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Wednesday the ordinance has worked so well that the police did not give out a single citation for an infraction of the law this summer.

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The issue arose at Tuesday's work session as the council went over the agenda for Tuesday's meeting. The council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance that would remove the law's sunset clause.

Smith said he is pleased Metzner has changed his tune.

"We are glad he is on our side on this one," Smith said.

The law prohibits cruising along East Franklin and East Washington streets between Potomac Street and Cleveland Avenue from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Among the goals of the ordinance was improving the quality of life for downtown residents by eliminating or reducing the noise from cruisers.

People who cruise now do so instead on Dual Highway, which is not covered by the law, Smith said.

Cruising is defined as driving past a point in the designated area three or more times during a two-hour period. Those caught cruising could be fined as much as $250.

The ordinance the council will vote on next Tuesday said the law "has reduced the dangerous traffic congestion and excessive noise, provided for the safety of drivers and pedestrians, and helped to ensure sufficient access for emergency vehicles to and through the city."

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