West Jeff setting rules on garage sales

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(Posted April 15, 2015)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Garage sales have become so frequent in warm weather that West Jefferson village officials fear they could become an unauthorized seasonal business. Officials are working on guidelines to keep sales from getting out of hand.

A public hearing on proposed garage sale guidelines was held at the April 6 village council meeting. The issue raised many questions.

The Planning and Zoning Commission proposed guidelines that would require a resident to obtain a permit at no charge before holding a garage sale. Residents would be limited to four sales per year. Signs advertising sales would have to be removed at the end of the sale day. If not, the resident could face a $25 fine.

“Signage is posted on telephone poles and all over the neighborhood,” said Council President Ron Garver. “They stay up and nobody bothers taking them down.”

As for who would enforce the guidelines, Dean Bollinger of the Planning and Zoning Commission said it was not a police job.

“Are we going to pay Arnie (Booth, zoning inspector) to go out on weekends to take down the signs?” asked Garver.

“You can’t bring charges unless you see someone put up the signs,” Councilman Doug Eakins commented.

“I don’t see how you can levy a fine if you don’t go to court,” Garver said.

The proposed guidelines would allow garage sales to take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and last no longer than three days. New merchandise could not be offered for sale, only used items. Councilman Cory Coburn wanted to know how “used merchandise” would be defined.

Permits would be available at the zoning office. Anyone planning to hold a garage sale would need to obtain a permit no later than 48 hours prior to a sale.

Bollinger said the guidelines were developed to prevent residents from erecting tents on their yards and having food trucks available.

At the end of the public hearing, council held a first reading on legislation to add a chapter on garage sales to the zoning ordinance. Due to the questions the issue raised, council tabled the legislation until the village law director, Ron Parsons, can address the questions.

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