Monday, August 14, 2000

Hamilton councilman wants swap shops regulated

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City Councilman Richard Holzberger said he plans to work with the police chief and the law director to draft a new ordinance regulating swap shops and secondhand merchandise dealers.

        This comes after an ordinance that would have regulated these businesses died during a council meeting Wednesday when members declined to support a motion to vote on the law.

        They said the language in the ordinance was too restrictive because, among other things, it would have regulated the hours of the businesses, prohibited them from buying items from minors and required them to buy a $100 license from the city finance director.

        There is concern among council members and businesses that some of the dozen or so swap shops and secondhand dealers carry stolen items from burglaries and other thefts.

        “I'm going to take another stab at it,” Mr. Holzberger said. “If I can craft a new one, I think there will be support to enact it.”

        The councilman said two swap shop owners called him at home and said they would support an ordinance with reasonable regulations.

        Alma Hounchell, owner of Hamilton Jewelry & Sound on Pleasant Avenue, said she wants to work with city officials to curb the problem of stolen items that pass through swap shops and secondhand merchandise dealers.

        “I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I think you're going about it in the wrong way,” Ms. Hounchell told council members.

        Councilman Thomas Nye said, “I would certainly be happy to entertain a new ordinance that makes sense and is coherent.”

        The failed ordinance regulated estate sales and auctions, Mr. Nye said.

        “I am a person — living in a historic district here in town — that goes to a number of estate sales or auctions,” he said. “If I buy a box of treasures for $5, I'm sure the dealer of that estate sale is not going to want to itemize how many half-used pencils and nuts and bolts ... I just bought.”

        Hamilton officials reviewed ordinances from about 10 Ohio cities in preparing the failed ordinance.


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