Council moves to enforce anti-loitering ordinance

ACLU says measure is unconstitutional

January 12, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Despite a lawsuit looming in the wings, the Annapolis city council moved a step closer to enforcing its anti-loitering bill through a resolution to designate Newtowne Twenty as the city's first "drug-loitering free zone."

"If that resolution is adopted, the anti-loitering bill goes into effect," Dwight Sullivan, American Civil Liberties Union staff counsel, said yesterday. "At that point, we intend to challenge it in court."

The resolution was introduced Monday night and is scheduled for a vote at the council meeting Feb. 14. When the bill was approved in October, the ACLU of Maryland said it planned to file a lawsuit against the city as soon as the council designated the first loitering free zone.

The law, which the council narrowly approved, allows communities to apply for "drug-loitering free zone" status so police officers can ask suspected drug dealers loitering in privately owned areas within those designated neighborhoods to leave. The ordinance states that known drug offenders -- those convicted of drug possession, distribution or use in the past seven years -- will be barred from loitering in designated communities.

Sullivan, who spoke against the bill when it was being considered, said yesterday that the bill is unconstitutional and overly broad.

According to the resolution, the Newtowne Twenty Resident Council has applied for the designation, and the Annapolis police chief has confirmed three or more arrests for drug-related activity during a two-year period immediately preceding the date of application.

Newtowne Twenty is on Newtowne Drive off Forest Drive in west Annapolis.

In other council news, the mayor and aldermen passed a resolution to express opposition to the state's plan to dump 18 million cubic yards of dredge spoil from shipping channels at Site 104, north of the Bay Bridge. A copy of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"I was pleased overall with the outcome," said Herbert H. McMillan, a Ward 5 Republican.

The council voted on the resolution, which McMillan introduced last month, after hearing more than an hour of recommendations from both sides.

Eastern Shore Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican whose 1st Congressional District includes Annapolis and parts of Anne Arundel County, spoke against dumping, stressing the environmental impact on the Chesapeake Bay. County Democratic Del. C. Richard D'Amato told the council that his delegation is sponsoring a bill to put a two-year moratorium on dumping at Site 104 until all other alternatives are examined.

Former Republican Rep. Helen Delich Bentley gave an impassioned speech supporting the state's plan and asked the council to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers finishes an environmental impact study.

The council also passed a resolution Monday night to give $50,000 toward the completion of the $750,000 Kunta Kinte-Alexander Palmer Haley Memorial at Annapolis City Dock.

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