Council OKs youth tobacco rule

Youth smoking Teenagers who use tobacco in Bellefonte could be facing a hefty fine the next time they light up.

Borough Council unanimously voted Monday night to approve an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone younger than 18 to use or possess tobacco, in any form, within the borough limits. That includes cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and any other product containing tobacco leaf.

The ordinance is based on one in place in Hollidaysburg.

Bellefonte police said the law will be enforced like any other, which could mean issuing verbal and written warnings, letters to parents or issuing citations. Violations would be considered a summary offense, punishable with a fine of up to $300.

Bellefonte school resource officer Jason Brower said he will educate students about the law and send letters home to parents before police start enforcing it.

Borough Council also is considering passing an ordinance that would require property owners to replace dilapidated sidewalks and, in some cases, install new sidewalks altogether.

Council members said the current ordinance has not been updated for more than 20 years, and the change will bring sidewalks up to modern standards.

The proposed ordinance stated if the sidewalks on a property are cracked, uneven or falling apart, the property owner must replace them. The code enforcement officer will assess all sidewalks, and if a repair is required the homeowners will be notified. The property owner will have up to 120 days to get the job done. If that’s not done, the borough could replace the sidewalk and send the bill to the property owner. If the bill is not paid, a lien could be placed against the property.

The ordinance says that all sidewalks must be uniform and fit a certain standard. Some sidewalks, such as brick, slate or asphalt, will be grandfathered in, but some may require repairs. The ordinance also states if you do not have a sidewalk on your property, but 60 percent of your block has sidewalks, you must install a new sidewalk on your property.

Council members said they do have some grant money in place to help qualifying low-income families pay for the repairs.

Council is expected to vote on this ordinance next month.


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