Aldermen restrict door-to-door solicitation

Published 10:13 am Friday, November 16, 2012

By Lucy Parker

The Daily News

Regulations on soliciting upon private residences in Franklinton were put in place by Board of Aldermen during its meeting Tuesday, through the passage of Ordinance 1046.

Solicitation within Franklinton had been altogether prohibited until a company challenged the town’s ordinance on the matter, Mayor Wayne Fleming said.

“The reason we’re having to change this is because we had a vacuum company come through and they challenged the law that we had,” he said. “We, for a long time, had on the books that we did want people soliciting at people’s houses.”

Now, retail dealers that do not have a fixed place of business will have to go through an application process and be issued a certificate of registration before engaging in canvassing, soliciting or peddling from residence to residence to offer goods and services.

Application will have to be made by an individual, not his or her parent company, at least 30 days prior to beginning business, and that person will have to come before the board for approval, town attorney Ellen Creel said.

A $200 application fee is required, with individuals representing charitable, religious or educational organizations exempted, and proof of sales tax clearance and registration for all state, parish and municipality taxes must be provided. Applicants will also be required to submit to fingerprinting and a criminal record/background check.

In an amendment to ordinance after its introduction at the board’s Oct. 23 meeting, solicitation will be restricted to the hours of 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

If a resident has a problem getting a solicitor to leave his or her home, that would be considered trespassing and should be reported to the Police Department, Creel said. If a person is harassed by a solicitor, “all they’ve got to do is call the Police Department, and I can assure you somebody will be there,” Fleming said.

Being convicted of the misdemeanor of “unlawful entry or remaining on the property another” is one way that a solicitor’s certificate can be revoked, Creel said.

A provision of the ordinance is that a resident can post a “no solicitation” sign on his or her dwelling, which will alert solicitors that they are not permitted to sell their merchandise or services there, Creel said.

The new ordinance is similar to the one regarding rolling vendors, Creel said.

“We just couldn’t have a blanket prohibition, and certainly this doesn’t override our rolling vendors provision,” she said. “They’re a little bit different animal, so they do have some other provisions that apply specifically to rolling vendors.”

The board also approved the minutes of its Oct. 23 meeting and of a special meeting held Oct. 30, when Fleming was authorized to submit a grant application for improvements at the Franklinton Airport to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Additionally, Minda Raybourn, CPA, was awarded a contract to perform the town’s 2011-12 audit report, and the board’s Nov. 27 meeting was cancelled due to the Thanksgiving holiday.