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Ban of solicitors in roadways, medians gets initial nod in Largo

City Commissioners on Tuesday night granted unanimous initial approval to a law that bans solicitors, including newspaper vendors, from Largo roadways and medians.

At the city meeting, Commissioner Rodney Woods said he felt for people who were trying to support their families but he backed "the ordinance for safety reasons."

The ordinance also would prevent distribution of literature from the roadways and sale of all wares from sidewalks with the exception of newspapers, which have a First Amendment protection, staff attorney Mary Hale said.

A portion of the proposed ordinance also references state statutes that allow charitable organizations, which fulfill certain criteria, to solicit from the medians.

Resident Curtis Holmes applauded the city's efforts.

But another resident, Geoff Moakley, said the ordinance was unfair because it penalized newspaper vendors, but not other solicitors.

"If bootholders and bellringers can walk up and down the street, there should be no problem for the newspaper sellers," Moakley said.

• • •

In other action, city leaders asked the staff to draft a letter opposing a controversial land-use change coming before the Pinellas County Commission on Oct. 21.

The change would affect an asphalt plant on Starkey Road, north of Ulmerton near Willow Greens, Seminole Palms and other neighborhoods. Several neighbors who oppose the change have written letters to commissioners asking for help. About five of those residents spoke at Largo's city meeting.

The plant, which is operating, is a nonconforming use for the current land use designation of Industrial Limited and there's a request to change the R.E. Purcell property to Industrial General, which would allow the plant and other more intense uses.

All commissioners said they supported a letter opposing the change because they think the plant is incompatible with surrounding homes.

"I absolutely wholeheartedly support us putting a letter out," Woods said. "Quite frankly, I wouldn't want this near where I live."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or lhelfand@sptimes.com.

Ban of solicitors in roadways, medians gets initial nod in Largo 10/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:35pm]
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