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Door sales ordinance change on hold until attorney addresses constitutional worry

Nov 22, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

A door-to-door solicitation ordinance got a spot on the agenda for the Riverton City Council meeting Tuesday, but the measure failed to pass on first reading.

Instead, the council voted to table the issue until city attorney Rick Sollars provides the council with more information on whether a constitutional conflict would be created if a permit and fee were required only for out-of-state solicitors.

The ordinance

In the past, the council has discussed whether or not non-profit groups should fall under the same door-to-door solicitation rules as for-profit groups. Some council members have argued that regulations would cause more of a hassle for school children or a church groups trying to raise money or build some other kind of support. The ordinance created states, "nothing in this permit requirement shall be construed as to limit or require a permit for individuals collecting for non-profit organizations or fundraising efforts."

The ordinance is subject to change at each hearing with motions from the council. The new ordinance also requires valid identifications, an original signed solicitor information sheet, a corresponding permit, a $25 fee and an additional $5 fee for each individual applicant. The permit would be valid for one year and would make it unlawful for a salesperson to conduct door-to-door sales without the permit.

Homeowners also would be allowed to request to see a permit, and a salesperson's permit could be revoked if he or she tries to sell items at a home where a "no solicitation" sign is posted.

Community development director Sandy Luers listed some benefits to regulating the practice in town. Luers said permits could be revoked if salespeople display "rude or aggressive" behavior. Another benefit of the proposed ordinance is that it gives residents the choice to "opt out" of sales by posting signs, she said.

City staff members have recommended that all solicitors be required to obtain a permit from the city, and they think it would be appropriate to ask for the same behavior from everyone.

Luers said the city does receive a high number of phone calls regarding complaints on door-to-door sales.

Nonresidents

Council member Todd Smith told the council that he was in support of the ordinance if local businesses were exempt from the permit requirement.

"The original intent was to try to keep track of those who are coming into our community that we didn't know," he said. "And to address a small problem ... I can't be supportive of this if it puts a hamper on local businesses."

Riverton police chief Mike Broadhead said the attorney did express concern with treating nonresidents differently.

Council members Mary Ellen Christensen and Jonathan Faubion suggested pursuing a statement from the attorney for the next council meeting.

"I think that to go forward with the ordinance as written, we'll expose the city to significant legal issues," Faubion said.

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Riverton City Council