COLONIE — The town is looking to crack down on panhandling that has of late gotten more aggressive along major thoroughfares and intersections leading to malls and other retail establishments.
The Local Law, which will be subject to a public hearing on Aug. 13, would apply to any panhandler who comes within six feet of another person “in the course of solicitation,” follows a person in an intimidating manner, continues to beg for money after being denied, blocks the safe passageway of a person, engages in intimidating behavior or solicits in an area readily visible to the occupants of a motor vehicle.
Soliciting by written, printed or spoken word will be prohibited, if the Town Board approves the Local Law, and will apply to within 20 feet of any bank, ATM machine, or check cashing business. It would also apply to public and private parking areas and parking ramps and all public places, according to the draft written by Town Attorney Michael Magguilli.
Violators can be fined anywhere from $25 to $250 for a first offense, and a second offense within a year could carry a penalty of up to 15 days in jail. In lieu of a fine the court could, with the town’s blessing, impose an alternative sentence “provided it is not an unconditional discharge.”
At the regular meeting on Thursday, the Town Board will call for the public hearing. If it is ultimately approved, it will be filed with the state and go into effect shortly thereafter.
Panhandlers can be seen along Everett Road on a near daily basis as well as the exit ramp from the Northway Mall and Colonie Center as well as other areas that see busy vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
“I have personally received multiple complaints from town residents regarding this issue and I am pleased to be a part of the solution to end what has become a dangerous practice at some of the busiest intersection across town,” said Town Board member Melissa Jeffers.
This story will be updated.