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Posted: February 7, 2012 8:57 p.m.

Porterdale to ban drug paraphernalia

Porterdale enacted a new ordinance Monday in an attempt to prevent the sale of items that might be used in the consumption of illegal drugs.

The ordinance followed citizen complaints last fall about one of the convenience stores at the intersection of Highway 81 and Crowell Road selling pipes that could be used for smoking marijuana.

"It's a good thing for the community," Mayor Arline Chapman said. "It's not what we want here in Porterdale. Porterdale has had a bad reputation. We haven't cured all ills, but we're trying to turn it around. We don't want these things in our stores where our children will see it."

The council unanimously approved the ordinance Monday. It bans the sale of "drug-related objects and drug paraphernalia," defined as anything that could be used to ingest, hold or test marijuana. The ordinance specifically prohibits a number of pipes, as well as certain clips and miniature spoons.

Existing stores are given three months to remove its merchandise, either by selling or disposing of it, according to the ordinance.

Chapman stopped in the store several months ago in response to citizen complaints about glass pipes and pornography displays.

Porterdale Police Investigator Doug Clifton inspected the store after Chapman relayed the complaints she had heard, and he told the City Council in October that both the pipe and pornography displays and sales conform to state law.

The ordinance, drawn up by City Attorney Tim Chambers, closely resembles two state statues banning sale of "drug related objects." The primary difference between state law and the new ordinance is the local ordinance includes a list of specific items, such as a wide range of pipes and clips, "intended for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana or any other controlled substance into the human body."

However, that definition is nearly identical to the state definition, which defines a drug related object as items "useful primarily" for ingesting or enhancing the effect of marijuana, testing the strength and purity of marijuana and concealing or holding marijuana.

City manager Bob Thomson, Police Chief Geoff Jacobs and Jim Tudor, a Newton County resident who is president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, met with the store's owner about the glass pipe display in November, prompting the store's owner to pull the display behind the counter and make it less visible.

Chapman has said that allowing the pipes to be sold in the city sent the wrong message as officials seek business development, especially as police are trying to crack down on drug use and sale in the city.

City creates budget oversight committee
City councilors on Monday also created a budget oversight committee, consisting of three councilors, to discuss and handle budget matters.

Councilors Linda Finger, Anita Rainey and Tim Savage were appointed to the committee by a unanimous vote of the full council.

No meetings were scheduled, but city officials said meetings would be posted and advertised like regular meetings and would be open to the public.

The city charter requires that at least four city councilors be present for any votes to be taken, so the committee would not be able to take any official action at its meetings.

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