This week, Dorchester County Council passed the second reading of an ordinance that would ban panhandling in roadways.
The ordinance states that, if passed, it would “prohibit the passing of objects to and from motor vehicles in the right of way in Dorchester County.”
County officials say the ordinance is about addressing a public safety issue.
“The whole reason behind this is really just public safety. We don’t want people standing in lanes of traffic and in turns lanes or in the main right of way, soliciting funds,” said Daniel Prentice, the chief financial officer for the county.
Summerville resident Adrianna Barkey was approached multiple times by a group people asking for donations while she was in her car at the intersection of Dorchester Road and Bacons Bridge Road.
“We had some issues with the people running between cars into traffic so we were having to watch to make sure that we didn’t hit them,” said Barkey.
Barkey and other residents were approached for months by a group called Miracle House of Hope Ministries. The group was ticketed for business license ordinance violations because they were not registered as a charitable organization. But the county could stop them from asking for money in the road.
“We took them to court a few times and [the ordinance] would be something that we could actually shut them down while in the act to get them out of the roadway,” said Prentice.
Barkey said she is not against giving money to those in need but believes that there are safer places than the road to donate.
“I don’t feel that it’s at all an attack against the homeless community but it’s a safety issue,” she said.
One more reading of the ordinance is required before it can be enacted.