WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Wheeling City Council gave its approval to ban camping on public property at Tuesday’s council meeting.
7News Reporter Annalise Murphy talked to several city officials to find out how this new ordinance will affect Wheeling.
This controversial issue of banning camping on public property has been at the forefront of focus for Wheeling city council for the last few weeks.
Back in October, the camping ban legislation was first introduced.
Outreach community members are concerned for the homeless, especially as the weather gets colder.
The ban was passed by city council Tuesday night by a vote of 5 to 2, with Mayor Glenn Elliot and Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum voting against it.
Council members who supported the ordinance included Ben Seidler, Chad Thalman, Dave Palmer, Ty Thorngate and Jerry Sklauvonkis.
Vice Mayor Chad Thalman voted for the ban saying he disagrees with camping on public property without permission for several reasons.
“I think the rule of law must stand. And I think we have to protect our city and protect the 99% of residents that are not homeless. And with that being said, I do think we also have to protect the 1% of residents that are homeless. And we do have to be sympathetic, and we do have to be caring, which is why we carved out an exemption for a managed camp.”Chad Thalman | Vice Mayor, City of Wheeling
Thalman says it is his expectation that the city will work with the homeless organizations and liaisons to provide one city approved area for people to stay.
Wheeling City Manager, Robert Herron, says over the summer, city elected officials got complaints from many residents regarding issues at homeless camps.
“This ordinance is a mechanism to try to address those residents’ concerns and yet still try to provide some type of outlet for homeless folks who are unable to find housing.”Robert Herron, Wheeling City Manager
Herron says the city stands ready to work with homeless advocates to come up with a solution.
The ordinance does not go in effect until Jan. 1, 2024, and the Winter Freeze Shelter is expected to open around Dec. 18.