MAXTON — Maxton commissioners have authorized the town’s attorney to draft an ordinance that prevents people from wearing clothes in a fashion that some might find offensive.
“We need to have more respect for our town,” Commissioner Virgil Hutchinson said. “This is something we can do without raising taxes.”
During Tuesday’s regular monthly commissioners meeting, a public hearing was held to get input from residents on what they think should be done to solve the problem of men and women displaying more of their body in public than most people want to see. Two residents commented on the issue.
Mayor Emmett “Chip” Morton suggested last month that the town needs a “sagging-pants” ordinance to encourage men to pull up their pants in public. He said he has been getting a lot of complaints from residents about the way pants are being worn.
Morton is suggesting that Maxton consider adopting an ordinance similar to one that recently went on the books in Timmonsville, S.C.. He has described the South Carolina ordinance as primarily a “nuisance ordinance.”
“I would be very much in favor of an ordinance,” said resident Willis Sullivan. “It bothers me to see a display of underwear in the check-out line in a store.”
Sullivan added that indecent dress not only affects the public, but can “hurt” the individual.
“They are not going to get a job dressed like that,” he said.
Resident Dolin Brown said that any ordinance addressing the way men wear their pants also needs to address the way women dress.
“Both have been pushing the envelope with how far they will go for some time,” he said.
All five of the commissioners agreed that something needs to be done to convince town residents, especially young people, the need to dress appropriately.
“We want them (young people) to dress decently,” said Commissioner Margaret Gilchrist.
Commissioner Elizabeth Gilmore, however, cautioned her fellow commissioners not to infringe on an individual’s civil rights.
“I have questions about us making an ordinance that regulates how people should be clothed.” she said. “We all dressed in ways when we were young that was to us just fashion. Eventually social norms got rid of these trends. We have churches, stores and restaurants that say to us that you can’t come in dressed that way.”
Town Attorney Nick Sojka told the commissioners that he will draft an ordinance using the Timmonsville law as a model and bring it to the board in September.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Heard a brief presentation from Romella Hainesworth concerning home ownership and veterans programs she plans to offer Maxton residents through her business, the Southeastern Regional Community Development Association. Hainesworth said work out of the Maxton Resource Center.
— Gave Angela Pitchford, Maxton’s interim town manager, permission to pre-audit purchases and accounts payable in the absence of the town’ finance director. Finance Director Myra Tyndall is only a part-time employee.
— Were told by Commissioner Virgil Hutchinson that the “Meals on Wheels” program will be up and running again on Aug. 22.
— Heard from police Capt. Jamie Oxendine that cars stolen in Mecklenburg County have been showing up in Maxton. He said the stolen cars found parked in Maxton were not stripped and were in perfect running condition.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.