FUQUAY-VARINA — Town leaders might make rules less restrictive for door-to-door salespeople and street vendors – but they’re also trying to protect residents who don’t want to deal with solicitors knocking on their doors or stopping them on the street.
Under the current rules, it’s essentially illegal to solicit in Fuquay-Varina. But that’s not consistent with federal law, said Planning Director Mike Sorensen.
According to a 1980s Supreme Court case, banning soliciting or peddling is a violation of freedom of speech, he said.
The issue came to the town’s attention after several vendors approached town leaders about it.
Under the existing rules, which have been suspended until a new ordinance can be passed, only seasonal vendors such as Christmas tree sellers, nonprofit groups and arts and craft vendors are allowed to sell from temporary locations or door to door.
“The change is to allow soliciting and peddlers in general through a permitting process that we did not have previously,” Sorensen said.
If town leaders approve the proposed changes, vendors will have to apply for a permit at the Fuquay-Varina Police Department. They will pay a $10 fee and fill out an application that includes information about criminal history.
The police chief then will have 72 hours to decide whether to approve the permit.
Once they get a permit, vendors will be allowed to sell between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
If vendors violate the rules, they could face a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail.
The new rules would also allow private property owners and homeowners associations to ban solicitors. In the case of HOAs, the ban would only apply to common areas.
People who are collecting signatures for petitions would also be exempt, as well as charity groups.
“I just don’t want it to become a burden on staff to administer it,” Commissioner Charlie Adcock said of the proposed change. “We need to make sure we have set parameters and are clear for what we expect.”