Holly Springs Council mulls ‘false alarm’ charge
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
January 10, 2013 12:00 AM | 1816 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOLLY SPRINGS — The Holly Springs Council has been asked by city officials to consider charging for false alarm calls and requiring garage sale holders to apply for permits.

Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball asked City Council members at their Monday council work session to consider a new ordinance charging business owners and homeowners when officers respond to repeated false alarm calls.

Ball said the police department hasn’t been getting an overwhelming number of calls, but the calls have increased as the town’s population grows.

“We respond even if the alarm company says to cancel. We’re just asking for some accountability,” he said.

Ball said employees of businesses in the city have accidentally set off holdup alarms, and children sometimes play with alarms and set them off, summoning law enforcement.

Under the proposed ordinance, homeowners and businesses would not be charged for the first or second false alarm within a year.

For the third through fifth false alarms within a year, Ball proposed a charge of $50, with charges increasing for further false alarm responses.

In the proposed ordinance, a false alarm is defined as an alarm activation that occurs “as a result of mechanical or electronic failure, malfunction, improper installation, or the negligence of the alarm user, his/her employees or agents, unless the request for response was cancelled by the alarm user’s alarm company before the Holly Springs Police arrive at the alarm location.”

The proposal calls for all alarm users to obtain a free permit upon installing an alarm system, as well as when a new owner takes over a property.

Residents and businesses will both be subject to the same fee schedule if the ordinance is approved.

Anyone charged for a false alarm would be able to appeal the charge in municipal court, Ball said.

Alarms that are set off by electrical storms or power outages wouldn’t count as false alarms, Ball said.

City manager Rob Logan told the City Council at the work session that city staff members have received complaints about people holding garage sales for an extended period of time.

“We’ve had some people conducting yard sales pretty much every day,” he said.

A code amendment Logan proposed would limit each lot in the city to four sales per year, with a minimum span of six weeks between sales.

The proposed change would limit garage sales to last no longer than three consecutive days and would permit garage sales only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Permits would be required to hold garage sales, but these permits would be free, Logan said.

A multi-family sale would count as one sale for each family involved under the proposed regulations.

Council member Karen Barnett asked if the city will be policing garage sales to check for permits.

Logan said code enforcement officers had already responded to some complaints of constant yard sales, but did not previously have the ability to issue citations for these sales.

The City Council will conduct a voting meeting Jan. 24. Holly Springs City Council meetings are normally the first and third Mondays of the month, but Martin Luther King Day necessitated a change in the meeting date.
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