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November 24, 2009

Jeffersonville City Councilman wants a paper chase

Smith proposes fencing in sidewalk newspaper, ad boxes

Jeffersonville City Councilman Mike Smith is hoping to reduce the number of newspaper and advertisement boxes lining downtown sidewalks.

The boxes — which belong to The Evening News, the Courier-Journal and a host of other publications advertising homes, cars and apartments — can be found on numerous street corners. The city already has an ordinance that regulates the racks. However, Smith believes it needs more enforcement.

The ordinance, passed in 2004, contains numerous rules relating to where boxes can be placed. For example, they can’t be within 5 feet of a crosswalk, fire hydrant, bus bench or driveway. And, there is a limit of six boxes in a distance of 200 feet.

“The ordinance we have is a good ordinance,” Smith said, noting that it addresses a lot of the problems he’s seeing downtown.

He said that many people dropping off new boxes probably didn’t realize that they had to register before doing so. However, he believes that they are becoming not just an eyesore but also a hazard in loading and unloading zones, such as the curb near Olde Towne Grocery on Maple Street.

As of Monday evening, 11 such boxes stood side-by-side on the sidewalk in front of the business. Management at the store could not be reached Monday for comment.

Additionally, he said, not all the boxes have locks on them. People use them as trash receptacles, the wind blows them over and the garbage winds up in the street, Smith said.

The councilman has approached the City Pride committee with an idea to enclose the boxes inside of decorative, green wrought iron fences — which would match downtown benches and garbage cans.

The fences would wrap around the back of the boxes, hiding them from traffic, but keeping them visible to passersby on the sidewalk. Smith believes the fences would not only clean up the look of the street corners, but also help limit the number of boxes.

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