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What’s the difference between a Girl Scout and a man selling vegetables on the side of a road?
It sounds like the beginning of a corny joke, but it was actually one of many questions Lancaster County Council members lobbed at each other as they discussed the exact definition of peddlers and hawkers during their Jan. 28 meeting.
On council’s agenda was second reading of an ordinance to revise the county’s code, allowing for council to set license fees for people classified as peddlers and hawkers. If approved after three readings, council would then have the power to establish a fee as part of its fiscal year 2013-14 budget.
The discussion came two weeks after county employees received a request for a peddler’s license, igniting a debate over how best to classify transient merchants and vendors.
County Administrator Steve Willis said the wording of the ordinance had not changed for second reading.
“Based on discussions it sounds like council wants to go along the lines of a business license fee that the finance committee has to work out,” Willis said.
Willis said he will propose a $15 fee for the county’s finance committee to consider in the budget. The fee amount was dramatically lower than a $150 fee mentioned at council’s previous meeting.
Despite some certainty about a fee, the exact definitions of peddlers and hawkers remained up in the air for several members, including Councilman Jack Estridge.
“Is this for every person with no permanent business address?” Estridge asked. “How about a person who parks in the state highway right-of-way? Can he sell out of his truck?”
New councilman Bob Bundy read a portion of the ordinance to clarify who would be allowed to sell what.
“It only emphasizes in the ordinance that he could sell vegetables, newspapers and magazines out of his truck,” Bundy said.
The county’s code defines peddlers and hawkers as people with no permanent business address who sell merchandise along streets or roads. The revised ordinance exempts vendors of newspapers, magazines, vegetables, tobacco and other agriculture products from needing a license.
Estridge still had concerns how the license and fee could affect other groups.
“How about a kid selling magazines at the door or what about the Boy Scouts?” he asked. “Are they considered hawkers?”
Bundy then urged his fellow council members to review the definitions.
Councilwoman Charlene McGriff also weighed in on the issue.
“First of all, who’s gonna turn in a Girl Scout? Second of all, it’s too dangerous to go door to door anymore so we don’t need to talk about that,” McGriff said.
Willis said the ordinance’s language mirrors state law.
“Even if council says no (to the ordinance), it’s still a state law,” Willis said.
McGriff added one more comment before the vote.
“This is just common sense. This is for people you don’t want in your neighborhood,” she said.
Council then voted 4-2 to approve second reading of the ordinance.
Both Estridge and Bundy dissented. Councilman Steve Harper was absent from the vote as he was on a previously scheduled trip. Final reading is set for council’s Monday, Feb. 11 meeting.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416