Panhandlers will soon be required to obtain a permit before soliciting donations in the unincorporated areas of Wake County. The ordinance will also prohibit panhandlers from soliciting drivers.
Wake County Commissioners approved the measure 6 to 1 during their Oct. 17 meeting, but final passage required a second vote because the first was not unanimous. The law passed without any discussion from commissioners or the public.
While panhandling is protected by the First and Fourteenth amendments, municipalities can enact laws governing it. Commissioners began discussing the law in reaction to complaints from residents about panhandlers on highway medians and street shoulders.
While the permit is free, applicants need an ID and a Social Security Card. The permit must be renewed every week.
In addition, panhandlers can only solicit donations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and not within 100 feet from an ATM or bank. Panhandlers cannot give false information and cannot approach groups of three people or more.
The law will take effect Dec. 1.
Wake Tech To Purchase Land in RTP
As part of a master plan to purchase 100 acres of land for its Research Triangle Park Campus, Wake Technical Community College will purchase about seven acres of property near Interstate 540.
The college is purchasing the land for $142,450 per acre, more than half its assessed value, which includes the back taxes owed by the original owner.
The money for the purchase came from a 2007 bond that allocated $11 million to purchase property for the new campus. The school now owns almost 90 acres of property in RTP with about $1 million left for future purchases.
Mental Health Services Cut
About $1.3 million will be cut from programs that serve Wake residents with mental health issues, developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems.
The local cut follows a cut in state funds and results in the elimination of six full-time positions.
Wake County provides 4,573 residents with some type of mental health care. Bob Sorrels, director of the Human Services Department, said the cuts mean 411 people will no longer receive services or will experience delays in service.
Human Services Local Management Entities Director Dr. Carlyle Johnson said they will find existing community programs to help those patients.
“There will be those that have to wait longer or go without care,” he said.
Richard Foy, a Wake resident with bipolar disorder, spoke against the unanimous decision by the commissioners to approve the cut. Foy said many of these programs are vital to the lives of those with mental illness. Others help people live happier and more productive lives, he said.
“We’re making people miserable,” he said.
Wake Sheriff Hires Furry Officers
Thanks to a $14,000 donation from Oak Grove Technologies, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office will add two more dogs to its canine unit.
The dogs cost about $7,000 each, depending on the breeding and training. Police dogs are generally trained for police work prior to purchase by a specific law enforcement agency.
The Wake Sheriff’s Office has 11 dogs in its canine division. Department officials said the dogs have helped discover $2.1 million in illegal drugs this year.