Revised Darlington ordinance means no expiration on trespassing notices

Officials in Darlington and many other municipalities are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet while paying into funds required by state law.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Darlington City Council approved a change to the city’s trespassing ordinance Tuesday night.

The original ordinance stated that a trespass notice would expire after six months and after that time period, the person banned is legally allowed to be on the specified property again. Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson said revising the ordinance is a way to help maintain order and keep trouble out of the city.

“The way the statute is written for the municipal ordinance, is that you’d have to re-inform a person every six months that they could not come back,” said Chief Watson. “Unless you’ve changed your mind, what difference does it make?”

The revised ordinance passed by council stated there would not be an expiration on a trespass notice, so there’s no need for property owners to re-issue a notice. Property managers at Tuesday night’s meeting said passing the revised ordinance would help them tremendously because tracking down individuals to issue trespassing notices can be a difficult task and the revised ordinance will eliminate that process.

“This helps us to be able to notify a person while they’re on site and not have to re-notify them in six months,” said Jaime Steen with the Housing Authority of Darlington. “If we know that they have a criminal background and we think that they could be a danger to our community and our people, we want to make it safe for the people.”

Property Manager of Washington Square Apartments, Rujon Williams, agreed with Steen. Williams said he issues about 12 trespass notices a year and was happy to see the revision of the original ordinance.

“You have to physically get their address or physically hand it to them which is a problem sometimes,” said Williams. “I’m excited about it because it helps me. You know, the housing authority, by them putting forth this, it really helps all of the housing complexes around town.”

Chief Watson said the new ordinance would help residents living in the housing authority to live there in peace without any disturbances.

“If you have someone that comes into a particular area that wherever they go, trouble follows them around, you probably don’t want those folks in that particular area,” Chief Watson said. “Especially in the housing authority, we have a lot of older people that live there that deserve to live in peace and tranquility.”

Steen said protection for her residents is her number one priority and the revised ordinance will help ensure that.

“It allows me to keep the neighborhood and the community more safe for our individuals that live there,” she said.

Darlington City Council also voted to suspend state blue laws for holiday shopping.

The law states that people cannot shop before 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, but the ordinance will temporarily suspend that for holiday shopping. Retail stores will be able to sell merchandise before that time beginning on Nov. 26 and ending on Dec. 24.