Georgetown Town Council introduced a revised version of its controversial yard sale ordinance last week that drops a proposed permitting requirement and would lift a long-standing ban on more than two sales per year.
“The original proposal was very restrictive,” Georgetown Mayor Mike Wyatt said this week. “From listening to the other council members, I think this (proposal) will cover it.”
Town officials have said the proposed ordinance is intended to target the handful of out-of-town roadside proprietors who frequently sell items along the entrance to the Georgetown Little League ball fields off of East Market Street, just south of the Georgetown Square shopping center.
“Our interest is in keeping people from setting up a blanket on someone else’s property, creating a mess and then leaving,” Wyatt said. “But if you own your property, I believe you should be able to have a yard sale whenever you want, so long as you clean up afterward and don’t mess up the flow of traffic.”
Town council introduced the first draft of its proposed yard sale ordinance Feb. 13.
That version would have required town residents to purchase a $10 yard sale permit that would have been valid only for specified date, as well as a potential rain date.
If approved, the proposal also would have capped the number of allowable yard sales at two per 12-month period. Town law currently limits residents from holding more than two yard sales per calendar year.
While the new version of the proposed ordinance does not include a permitting requirement and would eliminate the annual cap on yard sales, it would institute certain limitations included in the original draft.
They include a ban on yard sales in vacant lots or property with a structure “that is utilized primarily for any use other than residential purposes.”
The proposal also would place limitations on the advertising of yard sales, including a ban on signs and handbills attached public property such as utility poles and rights-of-way. No more than two, non-illuminated signs – each limited to no more than 4 square feet – could be used to advertise yard sales. Advertising signs also would not be allowed on private property other than the location where the sale would be taking place. Even then, signs could only be displayed one day prior to a sale and would have to be removed immediately afterward.
The proposed ordinance also would limit yard sales hours to between 7 a.m. and dusk, a slight change from the previous draft that set closing time at sunset.
A violation of the proposed ordinance would still carry the threat of a $50 fine for each offense.
Town council could vote on the amended yard sale proposal as early as March 13. If adopted at that time, the new rules would take effect immeditately.
Wyatt said he believes the new proposal will address the issues with fly-by-night, roadside knick-knack dealers without adversely impacting the small town tradition of family yard sales.
“I think we all support the concept of yard sales,” he said. “But if you’re doing it as a business, you need to have business license and do it the right way. These people, in my opinion, are trying to get around doing it right.”
Wyatt said he does not support the notion that the presence of unlicensed roadside merchants is an opportunity for a municipally-operated flea market.
“I don’t think that’s something we want to get into,” he said. “If these people really want to do something like that, they can go to (Laurel Junction, formerly Bargain Bills) in Laurel and pay to rent a table.”