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City council kills curfew ordinance
Linda Hopton, city budget analyst, named “Employee of the Quarter.”
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Mayor Bill Mischler at the July 28 city council meeting presented Linda Hopton, city budget analyst, with a plaque and gift for being named “Employee of the Quarter.” Mischler called Hopton “a great asset to the city and the community.” She is assigned to the city’s budget management division.
PINELLAS PARK - The City Council at its regular July 28 meeting officially scrapped a controversial curfew ordinance that was deemed unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.

The measure was approved in 1997 after citizen complaints of roaming juveniles at night in various parts of the city.

Written by Sgt. Tracey Schofield, who is now a code enforcement officer, the measure called for a first warning and then an arrest for a second offense.

The ordinance was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union as being unconstitutional and parts of it were struck down by the state’s high court.

Mayor Bill Mischler said the ordinance could have been amended to conform with the court ruling, but the City Council at the time decided against it. He noted that the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s office argued the case on behalf of the city.

Police did not enforce the law while it was being challenged. Signs warning of the curfew remain posted, but will most likely be removed now that the ordinance is officially rescinded.

Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Andrews said it was designed to address problems created by teenagers during the evening and early morning hours.

“There were 13, 14-year-olds roaming the streets at three in the morning on school nights,” Andrews said. “Some parents simply didn’t care.”

Youngsters were cited for a curfew violation the first time. Repeat offenders were taken into custody. Parents, under the law, also could be charged.

“It was a tool to help police resolve a juvenile problem,” Andrews said. “It was working because we were getting fewer complaints about juvenile activities.”

There are currently no plans to write a new curfew ordinance.

In other matters, the City Council:

• Approved on final reading an ordinance to allow construction of seven new homes on a parcel of land east of Belcher Road near 118th Avenue.

Michael Farrell, president of Farrell Homes, Inc., said the structures will be about 2,500 square feet each, boast two-car garages and sell for between $300,000 and $400,000 each.

Several residnets voiced concern over the development, including Joan Marzi, who said the land has been home to a wild rooster neighbors dubbed “Charlie.”

“We have tried to catch him and that has been impossible,” said Marzi, an Animal Foundation advocate. “Charlie has proven to be a tough bird to catch.”

Marzi said the rooster has “made friends” with swans in a nearby lake where it shares their food. She urged officials to catch the bird and provide it with a good home.

•Approved a second home development ordinance also was approved to allow five luxury homes to be built at 5791 80th Ave. Developer Fred Anderson said the two-story dwellings will be priced at between $300,000 and $475,000.

•Approved the donation of a city-owned Ford Backhoe and a one-ton dump truck to the Pinellas Technical Education Center.

The vehicles, which have been replaced with new models, are valued at about $10,000 and will be used to train students interested in a career in public work and city government.

The Council also approved a handful of parcel annexation and easement measures.
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