TRENTON - A new ordinance could make it illegal to hang out in front of liquor stores or bodegas.
Trenton's City Council will discuss the "safe passage" bill this week.
The legislation applies to all public grounds, not just bars and restaurants, and could give police the right to clear storefronts of loiterers and solicitors who block businesses.
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The bill was proposed after the city received complaints from residents and store owners concerned that too many people hanging around make customers uneasy.
Courts have previously struck down loitering laws as unconstitutional, which inspired the city council to come up with a new ordinance called "safe passage." Under the measure, if members of the public feel they cannot safely come and go from public buildings, stores or restaurants, police could be called.
It has been a violent year in Trenton, with a record number of murders. Council members see "safe passage" as a way to get better control of the streets, but there are residents who believe the answer isn't that simple.
"When people are working and have opportunities, they find other things to do besides hanging from the storefronts," says Trenton resident Daryl Hicks. "I'm sure that those people would rather be doing something else."
The council will debate the "safe passage" ordinance on Thursday night.