Ordinance amends city Code regarding peddlers, solicitors

By Bill Short

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance on final reading last week that amends the Municipal Code regarding peddlers and charitable solicitors.

Board members took the action Thursday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Chuck Wombough and seconded by Alderman Karl Chambless. The motion was passed by a 3-1 vote, with Alderman Maggie Powers the lone dissenter.

Under Title 9 of the Oakland Municipal Code, the ordinance amends Chapter 1, titled, “Peddlers, Solicitors, Transient Vendors and Street Barkers.” It also repeals Chapter 2, titled, “Charitable Solicitors,” and subsequent chapters in Title 9 will be renumbered accordingly.

City Planner Chris Pate has said the Municipal Code has always allowed for peddlers and solicitors, but it did not define those terms. As the Code has been enforced both before and since he was hired, Pate said, “peddlers” has been interpreted to mean essentially what the amending ordinance defines as “transient vendors.”

“If somebody comes in and sets up something temporarily for retail and to vend,” he has said, “he’s been required under the Zoning Ordinance to set up in a commercial district. This formalizes that.”

Calling it a “composite” of the Peddlers and Charitable Solicitors chapters of Title 9, Pate has said it is based more on Millington’s ordinance, along with the background check and Oakland’s current requirements.

He has noted that, under the amending ordinance, the police department will “work in concert” with the Codes Enforcement Office. That means Codes Enforcement will “handle” it on weekdays, and the police department will be responsible for it on nights and weekends.

In response to a question by Chambless, Mayor Scott Ferguson said the amending ordinance basically defines vendors and solicitors It does not limit or deny “access,” as long as certain permits are acquired.

While acknowledging that he has not researched how the Girl Scouts are “structured,” Pate said he believes they are typically under The Under Way. And he noted that there is a United Way “exclusion” in the amending ordinance, as well as exclusions for charitable solicitors and religious institutions.

“This ordinance is also geared toward people who receive a fund,” he said. “And, typically, political campaigns would hand out their literature for free, maybe soliciting contributions, but not as a transaction per se.”

Pate said the Shelby County Health Department has an independent contract. So, it is able to regulate things outside the “umbrella” of the Tennessee Health Department. But the Fayette County Health Department only regulates food.

“In Tennessee,” he said, “uncooked seafood is regulated by the Department of Agriculture. So, if somebody came in, and I reviewed his application or material, I would ask for an agriculture permit if he was going to do uncooked seafood.”

When Chambless asked whether something “relative to that” should be included in the amending ordinance, Pate noted that he provided the language in a “red, highlighted e-mail.” If the board chooses to, he said, it can insert that language in the appropriate section.

“I added the word ‘uncooked’ before ‘seafood,’” Pate said, “and ‘a permit from any applicable federal, state, county or other governmental authority with the application.’”

In response to a question by Chambless, Ferguson said the ordinance should be approved with that addendum.

The mayor also noted that Section 9-103 titled, “Permit required,” says the section will not apply to any locally established organization or church operated exclusively for charitable or religious purposes.”

Powers asked whether the amending ordinance contains any language that could be used to prevent “a couple of neighborhood children” from selling lemonade at a stand set up on the street. Pate said he is not aware of any, but he noted that the board could specifically exempt lemonade stands.

To a certain extent, he said, the board would count on the discretion of the Codes Enforcement Office and the police officers to distinguish between transient vendors. He also noted that Section 9-102 of the amending ordinance exempts minor children who are selling merchandise or soliciting solely to benefit the school they attend.

In response to a question by Powers, Pate said that section applies to individuals who sell what is typically considered flea market merchandise from a location that does not exceed six months and that does not have a permanent residence in the town.

“If that’s what this is supposed to apply to,” Powers asked, “could we just have an ordinance that says we can’t have a flea market for six months?”

“This defines a peddler, solicitor for charitable and religious purposes, solicitors for subscriptions and transient vendors,” Pate noted. “So, it covers more than just flea markets.”