Bellefonte Council mulls ‘do not disturb’ list for door-to-door solicitation

mmorgan@centredaily.comApril 11, 2014 

Bellefonte residents irritated with door-to-door solicitors might not have to experience it much longer.

The Borough Council is poised to vote on a solicitation ordinance that would allow the town’s residents to opt into a “do not disturb” list that would be distributed to all permitted soliciting entities.

The idea has been kicked around work sessions for several months, but borough Manager Ralph Stewart said the council has worked through issues, and he expects a vote at an April 21 meeting.

“We’ve had it in several work sessions, and members of council and myself have reviewed it numerous times, and we think it’s a pretty good ordinance, a pretty good policy for our citizens,” he said.

The issue came to the forefront last fall when community members approached borough officials about cutting out door-to-door solicitation altogether.

Through conversations with the solicitor, Stewart said the borough could be open to First Amendment legal trouble with an outright ban, but he sees this ordinance as a positive middle ground.

“We’re just following what we believe is an allowable law, or ordinance, that says if a resident chooses not to be bothered by a vendor, they have that right,” he said.

He said the borough usually sees several out-of-town businesses going door-to-door during the summer months, but it’s not a huge issue. Any of those vendors must first approach the borough to obtain a permit and be placed on the approved vendors list.

If the ordinance passes, the entities would be barred from visiting any housing on the list, and violation of that policy could result in a loss of the permit.

Stewart expects the option to be popular if the ordinance passes with lots of people wishing to be included in the list. He said there is no set process in place for opting into the list, but it likely will be a form filled out online or through a phone call.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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