Sykesville approves hoops ban on streets

November 11, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Sykesville Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance last night banning portable basketball hoops and other outdoor sports equipment from municipal streets.

The vote occurred after a public hearing, a 30-day delay, clarification of wording in the proposal and several months of sparring with residents who maintained the town was overstepping its bounds with the ban. Officials countered that the safety of residents ultimately falls to them and they pointed to liability issues if they allowed street play to continue.

"There are sections of this town where street play could lead to disaster," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "If people were in our shoes, they would be voting for this ban."

The ordinance takes effect Dec. 1.

At a hearing last month, several residents called for the establishment of safety zones where children could play without interruption from traffic. Council members said that they looked into a similar policy in another Maryland town but found that the municipality had not considered liability issues.

Sykesville officials have said that they plan to build basketball courts in several town parks, but they have not worked out the details.

The ordinance prohibits basketball hoops in public rights of way in Sykesville, where nearly 100 of them hang over roadways. Officials say the hoops slow traffic and have caused damage to municipal vehicles.

Violators would be warned once and then could be fined $100, which would escalate to $250 for third and subsequent offenses. The law allows for banned equipment to be impounded.

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