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Cruising ordinance won't expire

August 28, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted an ordinance removing the sunset clause on the city's anti-cruising law.

As written, the cruising law would have expired Oct. 1.

The approved emergency ordinance was effective immediately.

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.

After the meeting, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the cruising law has worked so well that he was not aware of police receiving a single cruising complaint this summer.

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

Drivers simply changed their driving habits in response to the law, he said.

Smith said he was pleased with the council's action.

The motion for the ordinance removing the sunset clause was made by Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who in 2000 cast the only vote against creation of Hagerstown's anti-cruising law.

At the Aug. 20 work session, Metzner said he is prepared to "eat crow" because he now supports the plan.

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

Metzner said last week that he is impressed with how the law has been enforced and how effective it has been.

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

Cruising is defined in the ordinance 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 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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