Proposed Graffiti Ordinance Amendment Pulled For Further Review

The Township Council April 25 voted to rework a proposed ordinance amendment that would cut by two-thirds the amount of time property owners had to clean graffiti off their buildings.

A change to a township ordinance that would have reduced the amount of time property owners have to remove graffiti from their buildings was pulled April 25 over Township Council members’ concerns about its fairness.

The Council members worried that multiple instances of the same buildings being tagged with graffiti would pose an undue hardship on their owners, who, some members said, were the victims of the vandalism.

Currently, property owners have 90 days to remove graffiti from their buildings. Under the proposed ordinance, that time frame would be cut to 30 days. The ordinance has been in effect since 2006.

The amendment to the graffiti ordinance came at the request earlier this month of the Hamilton Street Advisory Board via the FTPD’s community police team members. The team, and the HSAB, felt that the current 90-day grace period was too long, and that 30 days would increase compliance.

But some council members were not swayed.

Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) questioned the ordinance’s enforcement.

“The concern I have is, I’m a property owner and somebody puts graffiti on my house, I have 30 days to get it off,” she said. “If they come back and put graffiti on my house, I have 30 days to get it off. So what’s the penalty to me if for some reason I can’t afford to keep panting over the graffiti? What’s the enforcement there?”

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said the graffiti ordinance is covered under the township’s standard penalty ordinance, which mandates a minimum penalty of $100 and a maximum penalty of $2,000 and 90 days in jail.

“Is that implementing an undue hardship for me?” she asked.

“Well, the ordinance exists currently,” township attorney Louis Rainone said.

The point of cutting the compliance time, Vornlocker told the council, was that 90 days was seen as excessive.

“I agree that it seems to be sometimes unfair that sometimes someone who owns a piece of property that someone else damages by painting graffiti on it, that we hold that property owner responsible for it, but there is no one else to hold responsible for it,” he said. “We hold property owners responsible for the maintenance of their property. All of our ordinances do that.”

“Most of our property ordinances give 10 days to repair, this gave 90,” Vornlocker said. “I think it was a good compromise to back it to 30.”

The manager also said that Franklin doesn’t have a big problem with graffiti, but when it’s left on a building for a long time, “it tends to bring more.”

“In the four years that I’ve been township manager, we’ve enforced the ordinance twice,” he said.

Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) asked if the penalties could be spelled out in the ordinance, “as a deterrent.”

Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large) said there should be a point where a property owner, who has been removing the graffiti multiple times, should get a break from the township.

“There comes a time when you get tired of that,” he said.

Mayor Phil Kramer said suggested that there be a limit for how many times the township can fine a property owner for violating the ordinance.

With graffiti, he said, “we have someone who is already a victim. Now I feel the township is going to victimize them. I understand this was already 90 days … my feeling here is I’m OK with this, but I feel there should be, after two times … that the town cannot fine the person or charge them for our remediation of it more than two times without us providing evidence that we have gone to a certain extent, put out a certain amount of effort to try to remediate the problem.”

“I would like to make the township a partner in this,” Kramer said. A 30-day time limit for remediation of a single act is probably fine, he said. “The second act, correct it again, but if there is a repeated crime, I believe we share some of the responsibility in trying to mitigate that. I would like to see this ordinance changed to reflect that.”

Wright then moved that the ordinance be tabled for a month; all council members except Ted Chase (D-Ward 1) and Rozalyn Sherman (D-Ward 2) voted to table it.


Your Thoughts


Please Support Independent Journalism In Franklin Township!

No other media outlet covering Franklin Township brings you the depth of information presented by the Franklin Reporter & Advocate. Period. We are the only truly independent media serving the Eight Villages.

But we can only do that with your support. Please consider a yearly subscription to our online news site; at $37 a year, it’s one of the best investments you can make in our community.

To subscribe, please click here.

Other News From The Eight Villages …