Monday, September 22, 2003

Door-to-door permits studied

Township residents complaining about unlicensed vendors

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYCAMORE TWP - Complaints that transient vendors are bugging shoppers at Kenwood Towne Center have raised questions about whether officials need to keep better track of solicitors.

Fueled by concerns about whether police can ticket unlicensed vendors at businesses, township officials are talking about revamping their existing regulations to give them more bite.

Those changes also could broaden the rules to require nonprofit organizations who go door-to-door to register with the township, although they might not be required to pay the $75 fee for a three-month license, officials said.

"We want to know who is out there in Sycamore Township going to our residents door to door. We want everybody to have to register with us so we know who is there," Administrator Michael Berens said.

The current transient vendor regulations require for-profit door-to-door salesmen to register with the township and obtain a permit. Applicants undergo a limited background check to see if they have any outstanding warrants. Police issue about three citations a week for unlicensed vendors in neighborhoods, Behrens said.

But Hamilton County sheriff's officials say it isn't clear whether the same requirements apply to solicitors on business properties.

"We were a little concerned that perhaps we weren't totally covered. We want to make sure that we have all the power in this resolution needed," Cpl. Jim Angel said.

Soliciting in the parking lot and inside the Towne Center has been an ongoing problem, he said.

"They've been known to sell everything from magazines to perfume to speakers - things that don't even exist. It concerns the stores and mall management, as it does us," Angel said.

Law Director Douglas Miller said he expects to present a draft of the new regulation to trustees at the Oct. 2 meeting.

He said he can't guarantee that nonprofit agencies would not be required to have a license. But the township is trying to avoid that, he said.

"The ones you're trying to protect and the ones you're not worried about get caught up in the process," Miller said.

Joan Hauser, who was active in Sycamore Band Boosters until her daughter graduated last year, said the township needs to think carefully about the ramifications tighter restrictions might impose on fund-raisers for schools and Scout troops.

She said Sycamore band students rely heavily on the door-to-door membership drive, which raises about $30,000 annually. Forcing them to pay permit fees would inhibit their fund-raising potential, Hauser said.

"Unfortunately, it's the law of unintentional consequences. It just makes it all crazy," she said.



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