RTM to consider tighter rules on transient merchants
Published 11:24 am, Tuesday, July 28, 2015
While police charged two people with violating local transient merchant rules Tuesday, town officials are updating the rules regulating those merchants.
Proposed amendments to the town code are under consideration by the Representative Town Meeting.
The proposal was reported out of committee at Monday’s meeting, and will be reviewed by the full RTM at one of its fall meetings.
“A few years, back a couple of constituents brought their concerns to me about some public safety concerns regarding the structure of our transient merchants ordinance,” Deputy Majority Leader Michael Herley, R-1, one of the co-sponsors said last week.
“I took a few months to work on updating it, including a few conversations with the Police Department and a few sample ordinances that I received from the Connecticut Counsel of Municipalities for surrounding towns,” he said.
Herley, however, at the time did not forward his proposal to the RTM’s Legislation and Adminstration Committee. But, he said, the issue was brought back to his attention by state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-132, who, along with RTM Moderator Pam Iacono, R-9, also made some suggested changes. Iacono is a co-sponsor of the new revisions.
Herley said he took what he had done during the prior term and incorporated the latest suggestions.
Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy said one change the Police Department would like to see is to have the requirements for a transient merchant license apply not only to salespeople, but also those soliciting appointments for such things as home energy audits and for non-profits. It would also apply whether or not the salesperson or solicitor is collecting payments at the time of the order.
“We’d like to be able to do background checks on the people coming onto our properties in town,” Lyddy said. “The proposed ordinance would cover solicitors.”
It also ups the fees for each permit, and requires merchants to wear an ID badge that includes their photograph and permit number.
According to police Detective Belinda Papageorge, there are currently nine permits for ice cream trucks, seven for food trucks and three for “other” vendors in town. These are year-long permits. About 20 temporary permits are issued each year for the Memorial Day parade.
“The purpose behind the new ordinance is to get a handle on all these entities,” Papageorge said.
This time of the year, vendors often sell magazine subscriptions door to door, and while some get permits, others do not. Lyddy said anyone selling door to door, and collecting payment upfront without the proper permits will, and have, been fined.
The permit must be obtained for each person selling for the company, Papageorge said. “They don’t want to pay $100 per person.” They’ll say their salespeople aren’t collecting payments, she said, but in reality they are.
An incident on the Old Post Road Tuesday illustrates the Police Department’s concerns. A resident called to report that while sitting in his car in his driveway, a man approached and knocked on the window. He told the salesman, later identified as Christienne Cloutier, he wasn’t interested, but Cloutier kept banging on the window saying, “Don’t disrespect me.” Cloutier was told to leave, and allegedly hit the resident’s hand, knocking his cell phone to the ground before walking away.
Cloutier was located on South Benson Road, and admitted he was selling magazine subscriptions for a company called Self Starters Inc. He had sold two subscriptions for $60 and collected payment. The 21-year-old, who lives in Chicago, Ill., was issued an infraction for failure to have a transient merchant license
Meanwhile, police located another man, Jeremy Martin, 36, of Detroit, Mich., who was also working for the same company. He told police he had not sold any subscriptions. However, there was a warrant for Martin’s arrest for failure to pay or plead stemming from an infraction issued to him in 2011 for not having a transient merchant license. He was released after posting a $100 bond and is scheduled to appear Aug. 4 at state Superior Court in Bridgeport.
The food trucks at Sasco and Southport beaches are exempt from the transient merchant regulations because they have a contract with the Parks and Recreation Department.