Leader Blues

Monday, August 27, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot to charge for false alarms

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s fire and police committee has passed an ordinance along to the full city council that if approved will allow the city to fine residents or businesses for false burglary alarms. When an alarm is activated, police must respond.

The rationale behind the proposed ordinance is that if residents have to pay for wasting an officer’s time, they will be more inclined to repair their equipment so it doesn’t happen again.

As the ordinance is drafted, a notice will be sent after three false alarms in a three-month period. If corrective action isn’t taken and the false alarms continue, the following fine schedule would be imposed: $100 for up to six false alarms in a three-month period and $250 for up to nine false alarms in a three-month period.

The committee, which met for about two hours Thursday evening, also worked on an ordinance to keep sexually-oriented businesses out of the city and an ordinance that would allow Greystone residents to drive golf carts on city streets to get from one course to another. Although the consensus of the committee was that both ordinances have merit, neither is ready for a vote et.

David McKinney, who lives in Greystone, spoke for the golf cart ordinance. McKinney asked the committee to recommend that adults be allowed to use the golf carts on city streets only to drive to the courses but to not allow children under 16 to do so.

McKinney said he had tried to no avail for 10 years to get Greystone residents to stop allowing their children to drive golf carts through the subdivision. And he hoped the council would be able to accomplish what he had not.

Aldermen Becky Lemaster and Teri Miessner voiced several concerns about the proposed ordinance.

“We’re already short of police officers and we can’t have them at Greystone 24-7,” Lemaster said.

Miessner pointed out that residents who don’t live in a golf course subdivision like Greystone still play golf and still own golf carts. People have selective understanding of the law, she said. If the city legalizes golf carts on city streets only to drive between courses, residents who live in subdivisions without golf courses will feel at liberty to use theirs to visit neighbors, she said.

The committee agreed that parents would pay more attention to the ordinance if it included authority to tow golf carts driven by children. Members also questioned who would pay for the damage if a car hit a golf cart. Most said they thought golf carts are covered under homeowners’ policies, but they wanted more information before sending the proposed ordinance to the council. City Attorney Jim Taylor said he would add a towing clause to the draft and talk to insurance companies about coverage.

Although the prospect of licensing adult-oriented businesses appeared distasteful to committee members, the city attorney said without a licensing ordinance, there is no way to restrict them in the city. He told the committee that there is nothing to keep them out now.

As Alderman Ken Williams read through the draft ordinance he asked the city attorney, “Jimmy, do we have to have this stuff? I don’t want semi-nude employees.”

The draft contains definitions for such terms as sexual-device shop, sexual-encounter center, specified anatomical areas, viewing room and adult motel.

The consensus of the committee was that when the ordinance is finally ready to be voted on, it would legally restrict sex shops to the point that no business owner would try to open in Cabot.