New Hanover Co. considering changes to stop people from sleeping outside of downtown library

New Hanover Co. considering changes to stop people from sleeping outside of downtown library
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 1:50 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners is considering changes that would bar people from sleeping on county property overnight because of “challenges” around the downtown public library.

The agenda item clarifies that some of those challenges include “alleged criminal activity, littering and use of outdoor and parking deck areas as restrooms.”

The item says the “Getting Home” Street Outreach Program created via a partnership with the city and county to combat homelessness is “experiencing success,” but they also say the challenges remain. The proposal says they would let anyone who would be impacted know about the ordinance so they could comply with the law.

The amendment would state that people cannot:

  1. (a) Occupy, camp, sleep, or place, erect or utilize any tents, cooking equipment or bedding between the hours of 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM or such other times as prohibited by signage, rule, policy, regulation, or law; and
  2. (b) Personal effects, including but not limited to, clothing, food, bedding or eating equipment, shall not be left unattended; and
  3. (c) County parking deck(s) are for parking and associated activities; therefore, other uses are prohibited; and
  4. (d) Entrances to county facilities, and associated areas, are for ingress and egress to county facilities; therefore, other uses are prohibited; and
  5. (e) Surface parking lots are for parking and associated activities; therefore, other activities are prohibited; and
  6. (f) Subsections ( a) and (b) of this section do not apply to emergency management sheltering events and county employees in the performance of their job duties; and
  7. (g) Subsection ( b) of this section does not apply to the general public present within a county facility for the purpose of transacting business.

Anyone who violates sections (a), (c), (d) and/or (e) may be removed by law enforcement as a trespasser and punished as such. This could range from being charged with a misdemeanor to a felony according to state statutes.

Commissioners will consider the amendment at their meeting on Monday, Jan. 23. Since they are adopting on ordinance without a public hearing, it would require approval with a unanimous vote to skip a second reading and approval. You can find the full agenda here.