Ordinances target vaping, sexting and parking lot camping
New London City Council considers limitations
By Scott Bellile
Readings for ordinances that limit activities in the city of New London appeared before the city council.
From bans on overnight camping to teen sexting, here is a look at the four ordinances the New London City Council reviewed Nov. 13.
Two ordinances passed. Three others must appear before the council in December for a public hearing and a final reading.
The city council passed an ordinance Nov. 13 that outlaws overnight camping on city property.
People cannot stay overnight in vehicles, tents, campers and motor homes on city-owned properties such as streets, avenues, alleys, parks and parking lots, according to the ordinance.
City officials wrote the ordinance out of frustration toward a couple who continually camped on city properties. Police had no legal means to stop them, Public Services Director Chad Hoerth told the city’s parks and recreation committee on Oct. 2.
“These people are hanging around the area for a week, two weeks, longer maybe, and they just keep moving their camper,” Third District Alderwoman Lori Dean explained.
The New London Walmart allows overnight RV parking for people who need a place to stay, committee Chairman and Fourth District Alderman Rob Way said.
Police will decide whether to ticket violators. For example, if motorists on a cross-country trip pull over in a city parking lot for a couple hours to nap before continuing onward, officers might conclude it is safer to let them sleep than risk an accident, Hoerth said.
Another ordinance passed by the city council Nov. 13 limits parking to four hours in parking lots outside four city facilities: New London Aquatic and Fitness Center, New London Public Library and Museum, New London Police Department and the New London Municipal Building.
City employees are exempt from the ordinance when they are working.
Hoerth said at the Oct. 2 parks and recreation committee meeting that local residents have parked vehicles outside these locations overnight because they don’t have enough room on their private property.
“They were using city lots as their private lots,” Hoerth said. “Obviously those parking lots are designed for users of the building.”
The city council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would force minors caught sexting to pay a fine.
This ordinance would keep violators out of criminal courts, which can be detrimental to children’s futures, Police Chief Jeff Schlueter told the New London Finance and Personnel Committee on Nov. 7.
Sexting is the act of using a computer or electronic device to transmit a photograph or video depicting nudity, typically of the sender.
Under the ordinance, a person younger than 18 would be in violation of the sexting ordinance if he or she:
• Transmits a nude photo or video to a minor.
• Solicits a nude photo or video, fails to report that image to a school or law enforcement official, and transmits that image to a third party.
• Electronically sends a minor a sexually explicit written message that would be considered obscene.
The city council performed the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit minors from buying or possessing e-cigarettes and vapor devices.
The ordinance also prohibits people of all ages from possessing such items on school grounds.
Schlueter told the finance and personnel committee Nov. 7 that an e-cigarette called Juul, which comes in flavor varieties, is popping up in New London schools.
“Kids are using them in the bathroom,” Schlueter said. “This is a nationwide issue.”
Fewer youth will try their first e-cigarettes if such devices are banned from school property, Schlueter said.
On Nov. 13, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns announced that in an effort to curb Juul’s appeal to youth, the company will cease its social media operations and only sell flavor pod products online.
A fifth action item, amending an ordinance to add 10 more segments to the city’s list of “no parking” zones, did not occur.
City Clerk Jackie Beyer told the Press Star that the final reading of the ordinance amendment was omitted from the Nov. 13 council agenda on accident. It will appear on the December agenda.
The New London City Council approved the first reading of the revised ordinance in October.
The proposed “no parking” zones are:
• Near the intersection of Division Street and East Wolf River Avenue: the west side of Division Street and the south side of East Wolf River Avenue.
• Both sides of Division Street immediately south of Beacon Avenue.
• The west side of Division Street in front of the Franklin Park Apartments building.
• The west side of Division Street in front of two schools: Lincoln Elementary School and Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran School.
• The east side of Division Street immediately north of Douglas Street.
• Both sides of North Water Street from Pearl Street to the driveway of New London Utilities.
• The south side of Jennings Street from Werner-Allen Road to Parkview Drive.
• Both sides of Klatt Road from County Highway W to Starlight Drive – in front of New London High School.
In some cases, parking is already prohibited in these zones but current ordinance does not say so, according to Hoerth.