CHARLESTOWN – The Town Council voted unanimously at its Jan. 10 meeting to continue a public hearing on proposed amendments to the town ordinance regulating yard sales.
Council President Thomas Gentz introduced a series of amendments he would like to see made to the ordinance. Most notably, he wants the violation penalties of a $500 fine or 30 days of imprisonment to be abolished. In their place, he suggested a $50 fine with no possible jail time.
Gentz also wants to ensure that other kinds of sales, including estate and moving, are covered by the ordinance. And he further wants to amend the hours an individual can hold one of those sales; his suggestion is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. while the previous time constraints were from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The entire council agreed on those ideas but had trouble finding a consensus on how to limit the number of yard sales that one person, residence, or address could hold.
The idea of 10 permits per calendar year was suggested then shot down by council Vice President Daniel Slattery. Allowing 10, he said, is just too much.
Councilor Gregory Avedisian than suggested that maybe eight permits could be a good number, especially, he said, in this economic climate with people looking to defray moving costs. He then said he would be fine with making six permits the limit with no more than two days consecutively.
Gentz also wanted to make sure that the town's grange wouldn't be impacted by any limitations because multiple groups hold sales there. The council then bounced ideas back and forth for several minutes before deciding that the public hearing should be continued to the February council meeting, when more concise language for these amendments can be presented.
While it might seem like a silly topic to some – such as those residents heard snickering in the audience – Chief of Police Jack Shippee said that his officers receive a lot of complaints in the summer.
“If you have 10 good weekends, it becomes a flea market,” he said. He went on to say that some people try to use these sales as a business and that needs to be curtailed.
“We have had some people [holding them] every weekend,” Shippee added.