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Carroll town restricts portable hoops

Taneytown officials unanimously approved last night banning portable basketball hoops and other sports equipment from the city's streets and curbs.

The measure, approved on a 5-0 vote by the Taneytown City Council, prohibits the hoops within 20 feet of the street and 15 feet of the sidewalk. Players also will have to keep off streets and sidewalks no matter how exciting the game.

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About a half-dozen residents at the meeting opposed the measure, saying they keep a close eye on their children and that traffic is light. Three residents spoke in favor, saying they fear they would drive into a child who was not paying attention because of a game.

Councilman James A. Wieprecht introduced the measure in cooperation with Taneytown Police Chief William E. Tyler, based on a police survey of residents' concerns.

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"This is all about safety. That is the issue: kids in the street and the high rate of traffic," Tyler said last night.

Tyler said he does not want to discourage children from playing but worries that the hoops could lead to tragedy for motorists, parents and players.

"You never know which way the ball's going to bounce - and kids playing go after it," he said in a recent interview. "You can replace metal, you can replace basketball hoops, but you can't replace life."

He and other town officials explained after proposing the measure last month that the town's 1983 law against blocking traffic and sidewalks didn't address the issue, in large part because what they called a no-man's land between sidewalk and curb wasn't included.

That ordinance also predated the problem of proliferating portable hoops, which have spurred complaints across the country. In South Carroll, the Sykesville Town Council was expected last night to discuss a proposal to prohibit the basketball hoops from public rights of way along streets and roads.

Penalties under the 1983 law, which remain in effect, are a $50 fine for the first violation and $100 for each day of a second violation.

The Taneytown ordinance gives police the power to seize the equipment for a third or subsequent violation.


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