Council passes anti-graffiti ordinance

SVHS Graffiti
Graffiti at Southern Vance High School that cost $300 to remove.

The Henderson City Council voted unanimously to enact an anti-graffiti ordinance during their regular meeting last night.

Although a public hearing was not legally required before the council voted on the ordinance, City Attorney John Zollicoffer had recommended that the council conduct a hearing.

Once Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert opened the hearing to public comments, Claiborne Woods, Director of Maintenance for Vance County Schools, was the first to address the council.

He voiced the opinion that graffiti is a message that identifies drug territory and a message that leads to the deterioration of society and the community.

He showed members the above picture and informed them that it cost the taxpayers $300 to remove. He also informed the council that two vehicles had been vandalized with marker on Monday and that it was in the form of gang symbols/slogans.

Woods told the council that Henderson has a major problem with graffiti. He further informed the council that several months ago he had obtained a copy of Knightdale’s anti-graffiti ordinance and alluded that Henderson’s version was similar. He urged the council to take a strong stand as Knightdale had.

“Gang graffiti equals drugs, violence, and a community that will not attract industry,” Woods said.

Bill Edwards of the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce also spoke to the council. He informed the council that Henderson had been experiencing a lot of vandalism and glass-breakage and that the cost was being borne by small business. He urged the council to be kind to small business, telling the council “they’re what’s keeping Henderson alive”.

The ordinance prohibits the defacement of natural or man-made city-owned or privately-owned property. It also forbids the possession of defined graffiti impliments by persons under the age of 21 near school facilities. It is also illegal for anyone to possess graffiti impliments in designated public places such as parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, underpasses, bridge abutments, storm drains, and so forth.

The ordinance makes it illegal to furnish graffiti impliments.

The new ordinance defines graffiti as a nuisance and makes it the responsiblity of the violator and the owner to remove graffiti. It defines procedures by which the violator, owner, and finally the city may remove the graffiti and how the city shall recover costs for removal.

Civil penalties are:

1st Offense: $250
2nd and all subsequent Offenses: $500

The ordinance also calls for the creation of an anti-graffiti trust fund to pay for removal of graffiti or rewards leading to the arrest or conviction of violators of the ordinance.