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City council looks at loosening panhandling regulations

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Wilmington City Council got back to work Tuesday night after the holiday break. Among the issues discussed was loosening downtown panhandling regulations. What's termed "aggressive panhandling" is currently banned, which includes street performers. A new proposal would allow people to solicit downtown, but they'd need to buy a permit to do so in a six-block area near the riverfront. Some council members expressed concern for people who live nearby when it comes to musicians. Jim Quinn, mayor pro tem, explained, "You get a trumpet out there or an amplified guitar and it can be a whole different situation." Council members say they want to balance people's first amendment rights and public safety concerns. They'll vote on the new panhandling regulations in February. Also, the council accepted $250,000 in grant money from the governor's Crime Commission for Gang Prevention and Intervention. Council members also formally expressed their support for an Air Force One Museum in Wilmington. Margaret Haynes, the newest member of the Wilmington City Coucil, was part of these discussions after being sworn in Tuesday night. She is taking the spot of Jason Thompson who was elected to the New Hanover County Commission.

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