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Vehicle, pedestrian safety ordinance coming back before Mon Commission

MORGANTOWN — A proposed ordinance regulating pedestrian and vehicle safety in Monongalia County will be back before the county commission next month. 

On Wednesday, the commission set a schedule that will bring the law before the body for a first reading on Oct. 4. Should it pass that vote, it would return for a second reading and public hearing Oct. 11.  

Initially presented as a countywide panhandling law, the matter first appeared as a “public hearing” on the commission’s agenda Aug. 16.  

Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom presented and spoke in favor of the bill, claiming it would prohibit everyone from being in the roadway, regardless of their intention, in an effort to eliminate a safety hazard.  

About a half-dozen speakers overwhelmingly opposed the proposal, claiming it was an unconstitutional law targeting the poor that would land the county in court. 

The law coming back in October is the same in every meaningful way, save two changes. The new version makes exceptions for first responders who must perform their duties within a right of way and has reduced a first offense to a warning instead of a citation.  

The ordinance includes a number of prohibitions for both pedestrians within a right-of-way and vehicle passengers that would make it illegal activity for both parties to interact and pass or exchange items. 

The ordinance would also prohibit standing, sitting or otherwise remaining within a roadway or median not wider than 10 feet for any reason other than crossing the street, and makes considerations for activity on or near roads based on vehicle speed, traffic volume and lighting conditions, among other factors. 

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting, Bloom said there are some “real serious problems,” with the Mountain Line bus stop located on Chestnut Street behind the University Avenue Sheetz location. 

Mountain Line’s Acting General Manager, Maria Smith, is pulling together a meeting at the urging of Sheetz to discuss the relocation of the bus stop, which is used to provide free rides to Hazel’s House of Hope, on Scott Avenue. 

In addition to Sheetz, Bloom said court personnel working in the Monongalia County Justice Center have also expressed concern about the location of the gathering spot. 

“I think it has to be looked at. I don’t know where we’ll put it, but there are some major problems that are happening that we know of,” he said. 

Lastly, the commission adopted a proclamation recognizing Constitution Week, Sept. 17-23. 

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