From The Mayor's Desk

A collection of writings about small town democracy
by Roy Reehil, Mayor of the Village of Cleveland, New York.

Addressing concern and confusion about some of our village laws

Several village residents have voiced their concern and confusion about some of our village laws and ordinances recently so, I thought I might take a minute to try to clarify some of the points of confusion.

As a little bit of background, I read through our village charter, which was established in 1857 when Cleveland was growing quickly. As more and more people built homes close to one another, the residents gathered together to to make rules to protect our residents from fire, disease, and any use of property that could be dangerous.

As an example of the problems they were dealing with back then, here’s a few of the items in the charter, that the newly established Village Board would have the authority to regulate by law:

  1. To regulate and restrain the explosion of gunpowder, or the discharge of firearms or cannon within the village.
  2. To prevent horse racing, immoderate riding or driving in the streets and to authorize the stopping of anyone guilty of immoderate driving, by any person.
  3. To compel the owner of any unwholesome or nauseous house, to cleanse, remove or abate the same, and in the case of refusal to do so, to procure the same to be done at the expense of the owner.
  4. To prevent and regulate the running at large of dogs in said village.
  5. To compel all persons to keep dirt, ice and snow from the side-walks adjoining the premises owned by them.
  6. To establish and organize a fire department.
  7. To provide for the abatement of all nuisances.
  8. To preserve peace and good order, and to prevent and quell disorderly assemblages.

Just swap horses for cars and you can see that the problems of the past were very similar to the problems we have now. Those rules were created to make it easier for lots of people to live together… safely and peacefully. That was the reason the village was created in 1857 and it’s the same right now!

To create a safer and more pleasant village we need to respect our neighbors. We also need to have a general understanding of the local codes and ordinances. Here’s a brief rundown of the local laws that people have had questions about.

  • It is illegal to burn garbage.
  • It is illegal to have an open fire to burn leaves, brush or construction debris.
  • It is illegal to store junked, dismantled or unlicensed motor vehicles on your property.
  • It is illegal to store junked or dismantled appliances, rubbish and debris on your property.
  • It is illegal to begin construction or demolition on your property without a building permit.
  • It is illegal to consume alcohol in the village parks and to trespass after dark.

The village board respectfully requests that all village residents make an effort to comply with these ordinances and to restrain your children from disturbing the village late at night. It is the intention of the Village Board to make a stronger effort to enforce these laws as well as the traffic laws.

We want to curb the reckless driving and routine disregard for village stop signs and speed limits within the village before we have a tragedy to deal with. We also would encourage village residents to take the license plate numbers and description of cars driving dangerously through the village. These descriptions can be called directly into the State Troopers, County Sherriff's or the Village Hall at 675-8611. It’s up to us as citizens to help police our Village. If you call in a crime, even if it can’t be attended to right away it will be addressed when it can be if it’s not an emergency.

If you are not happy with a response from the police then call the problem in to the village hall. We will make sure that the appropriate authorities hear about your complaint!

Don’t be discouraged.

It’s also up to us as residents to help to educate our kids and their friends about right and wrong, about respect and discipline.

If we renew our respect for each other and start acting when we see someone breaking the law, acting dangerously or disturbing the peace, the people, especially the kids who are causing these problems will begin to see that people are watching. They’ll begin to worry that they might get caught. In this way we might save a life or stop a serious accident before it occurs.

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Copyright Roy Reehil, 2004