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Published June 11 2012

Fargo to crack down on panhandlers

FARGO – Panhandlers who frequent Fargo’s busiest intersections will soon have to take their business elsewhere.

City commissioners voted unanimously Monday to move forward with a recommendation from police Chief Keith Ternes to expand a city ordinance that bans panhandling in Fargo.

Ternes said his department has received concerns and complaints about the growing number of panhandlers staking out street corners or medians along the most highly trafficked streets in Fargo.

While most panhandlers are passive in their requests for money, Ternes said Fargo police have heard more complaints about aggressive panhandlers who use intimidation in requesting donations.

Fargo’s ordinance prohibits panhandling only in the downtown area, but Ternes proposes expanding the restrictions so police can better regulate the activity, he said.

On fair-weather days, panhandlers can often be seen at busy intersections, such as those along 13th Avenue South and 45th Street South and near the Interstate 94 and 29 interchanges.

Based on Ternes’ recommendation, Fargo commissioners want city attorneys to draft a revised ordinance that also bans panhandling in any residential area; any area within close proximity to an intersection, crosswalk or bus stop; and along any roadway or median that separates traffic.

Also Monday night, commissioners voted to approve a request to establish an historic overlay district on the Erskine’s neighborhood in an area north of 13th Avenue South, east of University Drive, south of 10th Avenue South and west of Fifth Street South.

Commissioners heard nearly two hours of comments from residents in the area, who were divided on the creation of the district and its boundaries.

Supporters want to encourage historic preservation of Fargo’s old neighborhoods, while opponents fear too much oversight on property ownership.

Commissioners had to cast three votes before approving the district and its boundaries.

Because of the protests, commissioners needed a supermajority to approve the district. Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Mike Williams dissented on the first two votes over proposed boundaries.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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