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City weighs door-to-door regs

Oct 3, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Chief Mike Broadhead said his officers field a number of complaints from residents who are uncomfortable having salespeople on their property.

Not every knock at the door is a welcome one.

Citizen complaints about door-to-door merchants and solicitors in Riverton have prompted city council member Mary Ellen Christensen to bring forward the idea of regulating the practice.

"I don't want to stop free enterprise, but I think there's a way to regulate it a little bit," Christensen said. "It's somewhat of a public safety issue for me on different levels --we should know who's in our city selling."

Christensen proposed that the council talk about the information that could be required from salespeople and discuss potential fees for going door to door in Riverton.

"We require fees from our day cares, our tree trimmers, our cabs," she said. "We should have something to regulate door-to door-sales."

She suggested that the regulations could apply only to people who come from out of town to make sales in Riverton.

Police response

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office responded at about 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, to a report that two men were "selling something" at a woman's door in the 3800 block of Wind Drift Lane in Riverton. Deputies were unable to locate the men, who reportedly left the area on foot.

Riverton Police Department chief Mike Broadhead said his officers also field a number of complaints from residents who are uncomfortable having salespeople on their property.

"(It's) mainly elderly people who don't have the wherewithal to deal with a very aggressive sales person," he said.

Eventually, the sales person can end up inside of the resident's home, he said.

Broadhead pointed out that anyone could pretend to be selling something to gain access to someone else's property.

"I'm a little bit concerned about people from out of town (who aren't) accountable to anyone," Broadhead said. "(They) can just show up and have a legitimate reason to hang out in the neighborhood and go door to door and see who's home and who's not."

He added that police haven't investigated any thefts connected with door-to-door sales, but he said, "the threat is out there."

No ordinance

Community Development Director Sandy Luers said the city doesn't have an ordinance on the books regulating door-to-door sales, though in the past salespeople have been required to register before working in the city.

"(It's similar) to contractor registration," she said. "It's fairly simple."

She said the city requests each business' federal identification number, liability insurance information and contact information along with a list of the people who will be doing business in the city. A $50 fee also is required.

Council response

Mayor Ron Warpness called Christensen's idea "reasonable."R32;"I don't think it's inappropriate for us to know who's in the community selling," he said. "I think we should have something on our books."

Council member Jonathan Faubion also was in favor of some regulation, with a small fee --or no fee at all. Instead, he said, the city could charge salespeople who ignore residents' requests for privacy.

"I'm in support of passing an ordinance that says if you knock on a door that says, 'No soliciting,' that there's a fine that goes along with that," he said.

Deputies reportedly responded to a similar situation at about noon Sept. 24 when a man on Zuber Road said a person selling cleaning supplies had disregarded the "no trespassing" sign on his property.

Christensen had suggested creating a list of residents who don't accept certain solicitations. She said the document could be distributed to door-to-door merchants.

"Citizens (would be) responsible for coming into the city to say, 'I want to be on that list,'" she said.

Council members Todd Smith and Richard Gard were against the additional regulation. If a door-to-door ordinance is created, they said it should not include fees for salespeople.

"I'm opposed to a merchant having to report to the city before they can offer me siding or those kinds of things," Smith said. "I think there's a lot of logistics to consider."

Gard wondered about nonprofit groups or children who go door to door to raise money for club activities.

"I have some reservations because I don't want to (negatively impact) the Girl Scouts or the Boy Scouts or any service organization that's trying to work the community," Gard said.

Christensen said the city could exempt non-profit organizations, religious groups or schools from the temporary merchant permit.

The council directed staff to look into the issue and report back to them in the future.

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