Panhandling ordinance approved in New Milford
The town of New Milford now has an aggressive panhandling control ordinance.
Town Council approved implementing the ordinance Monday after a brief public hearing on the issue.
"This ordinance is to prohibit aggressive behavior," said Randy DiBella, the town attorney, "not to control speech or prevent anyone from asking for charitable help."
Mayor Pat Murphy asked DiBella to fashion the ordinance in March after several residents had complained about aggressive panhandlers.
There are people banging on car windows demanding money, the mayor had heard. It has happened in the Big Y and CVS parking lots, she related.
The ordinance gives the New Milford Police Department "a tool to use" in combating the problem, DiBella said.
A fine of up to $250 could be imposed.
"If we have people feeling frightened when they're in New Milford's downtown, its not a good thing," Murphy said.
Only three residents spoke Monday during the public hearing.
Marcella Martin noted she's "seen more acts of kindness" toward people in need than panhandling.
Boland reported being frightened by a panhandler near the post office at night.
Lathrop spoke of his wife, who works in a hair salon along Bank Street, feeling the need to lock the salon door, only letting in customers, because of aggressive panhandling on the street.