Midway is close to enacting a new transient merchants, peddlers and solicitors ordinance to replace the one that brought publicity when the city shut down in June a lemonade stand operated by three girls.
The council decided April 23 after many discussions to grant exemptions to activities such as lemonade stands operated by minors. The proposed law will permit children to carry on fundraising activities for schools, organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and similar groups. There also is an exception for children doing casual jobs like delivering newspapers. The age limit is 18.
The updated ordinance, under study for almost a year, now is in the hands of City Attorney Richard Braun for legal review.
Door-to-door sales are governed by the same Midway ordinance, and this topic caused so much deliberation that Mayor Pro Tempore Curtes Roberts said, “We are just nitpicking, we don’t need to be so rigid.”
Council members want to discourage door-to-door soliciting in residential areas, but had trouble putting that into legally enforceable provisions. Roberts said that at his house, he had a sign that said solicitors were banned, and he pointed it out to any strangers who came to his door.
Councilwoman Melice Gerace said she opposed requiring people to post signs if they did not want solicitation at their homes.
“The majority don’t want door-to-door salespeople,” she said.
“We have discussed this so much . . . We’re getting in our own way,” Roberts said.
After the council approved an exemption for established charitable or religious organizations, the members agreed to send the draft to Braun with one final note: The ice cream truck can continue selling in Midway neighborhoods.
The final measure is expected to be on the agenda for the council’s May 14 meeting.
In other business, Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington told the council there had been no progress in resolving the city’s disagreement with the Liberty County Development Authority over water and wastewater services. The dispute, which dates back at least to 2006, is over money the two entities owe each other for shared services.
Attorney James Coppage, who was hired by Midway to negotiate with the LCDA, told the mayor he had made several appointments to meet with the authority’s lawyer, but they had all been canceled.
“Right now we aren’t getting anywhere,” Washington said.
Councilman Terry Doyle said the council had not heard from Coppage since December and that he would like some kind of report.
Negotiations had revealed that including impact fees, the LCDA owes Midway almost $2.4 million, which was reduced to $286,851.50. At the same time, documents showed Midway owing $52,857.70 to the authority.
Doyle expressed concerns over dog attacks as he had done at a previous meeting. He called for a stricter city ordinance on the subject and wants to give Midway’s municipal court more authority in dog cases.
The council is studying laws from other jurisdictions to help redraft Midway’s ordinance. Doyle had told the council of six serious dog attacks in the Lake Gale area.
The council members briefly discussed the provisions for granting business licenses and said they all needed to study the procedures. Doyle and Gerace said they thought routine renewal of a license for an existing business should be simplified.
Finance director Gwen Lowe, who presented the quarterly budget review, said, “The city is in very good financial condition.”
No budget revisions were needed for the first quarter, Lowe said, although some adjustments probably will need to be made after the second quarter.