Sanctuary city discussion continues


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — Troy City Law Director Grant Kerber answered questions on establishing Troy as a “sanctuary city for the unborn” after a local resident continued to advocate for legislation to outlaw abortion in Troy during the Troy City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Christopher Harshbarger, of Troy, continued to urge the city of Troy to become a “sanctuary city for the unborn” by outlawing abortion within the city, speaking during public comment on Tuesday about Margaret Sanger, who established organizations that later became Planned Parenthood. Harshbarger attended two council meetings in June, requesting the council pursue legislation for Troy similar to that which the city of Lebanon recently passed.

After Harshbarger spoke, President of Council William Lutz addressed Kerber with questions about the ordinance the city of Lebanon passed in May, which declared the city to be a “sanctuary city for the unborn” and made abortion a criminal offense.

“If anybody would receive an abortion; perform an abortion; possess abortion-assistive drugs; use, possess, or administer any of those drugs, Lebanon has made that a criminal penalty, punishable by jail time,” Kerber said.

Kerber said that, under the U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Lebanon’s ordinance would be considered unconstitutional. He noted, “I know that there is some reference to some scholars‘ disagreement with this.”

He said if Troy followed Lebanon’s lead, it’s likely that such an ordinance would “invite litigation, that the city would certainly have to expend some funds to pursue that litigation, and it could also open up some liability.”

Lutz asked what court, if Lebanon did decide to charge someone with a crime, would hear those cases.

Kerber said it would likely be its municipal court, but if that were to happen, it would be likely that “there would be a federal lawsuit filed against the city.”

Another council member asked why the city of Dayton has not been challenged after declaring itself a sanctuary city in terms of illegal immigration.

“The situations are not the same,” Kerber said. The city of Dayton has limited the degree to which law enforcement or government employees will reach out to federal agencies in regard to immigration, whereas Lebanon has made abortion a crime. Kerber also used the example of counties where sheriffs of those counties have declared them to be second amendment sanctuaries, where law enforcement is instructed not to pursue criminal charges for weapons offenses.

Kerber noted earlier that, if the goal is to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedent set in Roe v. Wade, “there are 25 other communities that are going to test it before Troy” due to those communities having their own legislation outlawing abortion.

In other news:

Also during the council’s meeting on Tuesday, the council approved the budget for the city of Troy for the fiscal year 2022. The city’s budget for 2022 is anticipated to be $1,837,593. The three-reading rule was suspended. A public hearing was also held, during which there were no speakers.

The council also authorized electric purchases for the construction of the new fire station. The three-reading rule was suspended.

Construction for the new Fire Station No. 1 broke ground in April, at 110 E. Canal St., and the council authorized payments not to exceed $80,000 to AES Ohio — formerly known as DP&L — for purchases related to the station’s electric utilities.

The purchase orders to AES Ohio are to relocate poles and electrical lines on East Canal Street at a cost of up to $50,000, as well as to extend 3-phase electric power to the station at a cost of up to $30,000.

The council then approved amending the city’s purchase agreement with the Staunton Grange to allow the Grange to have a sub-lease with a non-profit organization, which is expected to be the Masonic Temple. The three-reading rule was suspended.

The council also held the second reading of an ordinance amending the general plan for the Troy Christian Schools Education and Performing Arts Facility planned development in the city of Troy. A public hearing was held, during which there were no speakers.

The proposed amendment to that planned development, generally located at 700 S. Dorset Road, would add a parking lot and expand the boundary by approximately 0.522 acres for a total of 25.384 acres. The city would also have to rezone the 0.522-acre area added to this planned development from single-family residential to a residential planned development.

The council’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on July 19 in council chambers at City Hall, located at 100 S. Market St.

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