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August 14, 2014

Council discusses draft amendments to peddler ordinance

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

CLAWSON — The city attorney presented to City Council Aug. 5 a draft of amendments to the peddler/canvasser ordinance that would, among other things, create a no-knock registry of homeowners.

No formal action was taken. Before being finalized, the amendments must come back to council for approval twice.

If the proposed amendments are finalized, solicitors hoping to obtain a license to go door to door throughout the city will be given the registry and will be prohibited from soliciting at properties on the list.

To be placed on the registry, a resident must sign up with the City Clerk’s Office. Unless asked to be taken off the list earlier, a person’s name and address will stay on the registry for three years.

The city will issue the resident a no-knock tag to place on their property.

“It’s only that tag that will be recognized,” said City Attorney Jon Kingsepp.

Violating the no-knock ordinance could land the solicitor a $500 fine.

A fee to join the registry will be determined at a later date.

The list would fall under the Freedom of Information Act, meaning any person can obtain a copy of it. After a short debate, it was determined that the names of the homeowners should be redacted when the list is obtained via FOIA.

Mayor Penny Luebs said leaving the names and addresses on the list could lead to the sale of that information.

“If I am an enterprising entrepreneur, I may FOIA the list and then sell it to someone else for the names and addresses,” Luebs said.

Further, the amendments to the ordinance seek to control the selling tactics of a solicitor.

“You’d think in this day and age, you wouldn’t have to put this in an ordinance,” said Kingsepp.

The ordinance calls for solicitors to act in a “civil manner, not using high-pressure sales techniques and recognizing that if the resident at all hesitates or refuses further discussion with the person soliciting, further activity shall immediately cease and the person soliciting shall immediately leave the premises.”

Kingsepp said the amendment is in response to complaints.

“We are getting a lot of heavy-handed techniques, so I thought I’d emphasize common courtesy in the ordinance,” said Kingsepp. “While I don’t like to do that, I certainly want to give the police and residents an opportunity to complain if it’s legitimate in those circumstances.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.