Texas Town’s Newsrack Ban Includes City Hall

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By: Joe Strupp

A Texas town has banned newspaper racks along an historic district that includes its city hall, a move that will affect at least 32 papers and shoppers, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that paper reported.

?Saying the racks are unsightly, the [Grapevine, Tex.] City Council voted 5-2 to ban them on public property on historic Main Street from Dallas Road north to Northwest Highway,? the paper reported. ?Many of the newspapers are in front of City Hall and are advertising circulars. Newspapers have until Thursday to remove the racks or face a $100 daily fine.?

The Star-Telegram adds that: ?After hearing from area merchants, Councilwoman Sharron Spencer and Councilman Mike Lease led the drive to get rid of the racks, saying they clutter the sidewalks.?

“The [racks] are pink, purple, yellow, green ? any color under the rainbow,” Spencer told the paper. “Having chartreuse and polka-dotted newspapers out there doesn?t quite fit with the historic look of downtown.”

The story noted that owners of the racks can put them on private property downtown if the property owner agrees.

Council members Darlene Freed and C. Shane Wilbanks voted against the ban. Freed said she worries that moving the racks might violate the First Amendment, and she said she wishes the council had talked with the newspaper owners before voting.

“This type of legislation is far more reaching than Grapevine, Texas, and I am not interested in getting ourselves involved in lawsuits,” Freed said.

Other cities in North Texas have approved similar rules, the Star-Telegram reported, adding, ?Fort Worth and Dallas have rules about the location, size and characteristics of racks. Last year, the Fort Worth City Council adopted an ordinance regulating the location, size and number of news racks downtown.?

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