City consolidates firearms ordinance; talks surveillance and historic districts
By Allen Turner, The News Reporter
Whiteville City Council, as expected, unanimously passed a new ordinance consolidating existing town ordinances related to firearms that are scattered throughout the city code into a new single ordinance.
Under the new ordinance, auxiliary police officers can carry weapons only on the express order of the police chief, dangerous weapons are prohibited, and weapons and “vicious animals” would not be permitted at demonstrations or assemblies.
Display of weapons in city buildings and at city parks is prohibited. The ordinance requires the posting of signs prohibiting weapons and outlaws the discharge of any firearm in the city limits except in defense of a person or property or in response to directions from law enforcement officers. It also specifically prohibits concealed handguns in city recreational facilities or any other facility used for athletic events. Discharging of fireworks would be prohibited without a permit from the city fire marshal.
At the request of parks and recreation director Blake Spivey, council unanimously approved a first-ever new policy governing rentals of recreation facilities and parks. The policy puts into writing practices that already have been being followed. Councilman Tim Collier, a former parks and recreation director for the city, commented that such a policy would have made it easier for him to do his job when he was a city employee.
Council adopted another new city policy on surveillance video recommended by City Manager Darren Currie. As Safety and Risk Manager Hal Lowder explained it to board members, the new policy addresses how staff will place electronic surveillance equipment on city vehicles, ensure that all video surveillance complies with federal, state and local laws, protects privacy of staff and citizens and enhances public safety while respecting the rights of privacy of everyone. Currie told council in a memo that the policy is necessary because the city has received several requests for the release of surveillance tapes from various departments and that enactment of the policy will assure that such requests are treated equally and fairly.
Council also received but took no action on an April 2 letter from N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources saying the State Historic Preservation Office has identified seven properties in the 300 block of West Columbus Street, about 600 properties in the Whiteville Historic District and an additional 16 individual properties as appearing to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Inclusion on the list does not automatically qualify a property for inclusion on the Register, but it does make a property eligible for nomination for inclusion. The downtown business district is not included in the list.