How much does it cost to pee in public in Morristown? Oh, at least $9,000.
That number is based on all the public urination citations, at least 18, issued by the Morristown Police Department between Sept. 23 and Nov. 12—since Town Council passed an ordinance amendment in September that carries a minimum fine of $500 for any public urination and defecation citation issued in town. The maximum allowable fine is $2,000.
Prior to this ordinance amendment's introduction in August, there was no minimum fine associated with public urination or defecation in town. This means a judge could technically issue a fine of, say, $10. Were that still the case, those citations issued since the amendment passed would have only added $180 to the town coffers.
In addition, under the ordinance amendment people with three violations would have to pay a minimum fine of $1,000. Some names, all of which are publicly accessible by request from the police department through the Open Public Records Act, have appeared on multiple occasions before and since the amendment.
The ordinance amendment comes at a time where Morristown's nightlife has increasingly gained attention as more and more people come to patronize its bars and restaurants. The mix of violators cited since the amendment passed, however, ranges from bar patrons to the homeless to one incident on Martin Luther King Avenue, where a person was cited by police for urinating on the side of the building currently under construction through Homeless Solutions.
While a fine, if given, can now be no lower than $500, a judge still can decide whether to issue that fine or drop the case, town officials have said.
Mayor Tim Dougherty in August, when the ordinance amendment was introduced, said the amendment was not aimed solely at business areas, such as those with a higher concentration of bars, but for the entire town.
"It's a townwide quality of life issue," he said. "We should have a minimum fine in place."