(Riverton, Wyo.) – It took plenty of discussion, but Riverton’s Door to Door Solicitation ordinance passed on first reading Tuesday night, albeit by a 5-2 vote. The ordinance now moves to second reading. The ordinance will require a $25 permit for any non-local solicitor to peddle their wares in the city, and a $5 fee for each person soliciting under one permit.
The city staff developed an ordinance after many complaints were received this past summer against aggressive cleaning product and vacuum cleaner sales people who hit town within weeks of each other.
“Our attorney answered the main question that arose when this was first tabled,” City Administrator Steven Weaver said Wednesday morning. “Non-profits can be excluded from paying a permit fee for door-to-door solicitation.” That question delayed the first vote on the ordinance until Tuesday night. There were fears the exclusion of local non-profits could be a violation of the U.S. Constitution, since only out-of-town solicitors would be required to have a permit. Not so, said City Attorney Rick Sollars.
“The main objection to the ordinance came from councilors Richard Gard and Todd Smith who voiced opposition to any permits. They proposed an alternate motion that struck most of the ordinance language but left the part that called for citing people who exhibited “rude, insolent, violent or openly aggressive” behaviors. Weaver said Police Chief Mike Broadhead indicated enforcement of just that section would be very difficult because the terms rude, insolent, violent or openly aggressive were ambiguous and would hard to defend in court. He also said the $750 fine attached to that section didn’t fit the offense. The amendment was defeated.
“We’ll probably amend it a bit before we move to second reading,” Weaver said. “I think we also need a definition of what “door-to-door” means. Does it apply to people just using door hangers or for those actually knocking on doors? It’s not clear,” he said.
Weaver said city residents who do not want solicitors should post a notice on their property. “A no solicitor sign would mean no one, including local groups, could approach a residence or business,” he said. “Otherwise they could post a no commercial solicitation sign, which would prevent product or service vendors, but allow local organizations.”
Weaver said passing a solicitation ordinance would allow the police to intervene if any problem develops.
In other action at the meeting, a contract was approved with the Lori Gorseth Law Office, LLC, for legal services to act as the city’s Public Defender in Municipal Court. The city has been without a public defender since the first of October. Gorseth will be paid $2,000 per month for her services.
The council also approved a bid award to Howard & Associates to conduct a Dementia/Alzheimer’s facility feasibility study for Community Entry Services. The $13,500 project is being funded by a Wyoming Business Council Community Development Block Grant and the funds are being passed through the city.