Liberty Twp. sets new door to door sales rules

Liberty Twp. has added some new restrictions on door to door solicitors, including a requirement that all of them register and have photo identification.

The township instituted a 5 p.m. curfew last summer after residents complained about solicitors using aggressive tactics and ignoring "no soliciting" signs. Liberty Twp. was promptly sued in federal court by a Utah pest control company. The courts have deemed solicitation protected free speech.

MORE: Trustees lift soliciting curfew after threat of lawsuit

The hours of operation for the outside vendors will remain 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October through April and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer months.

But the biggest change is the new plastic ID cards that officials say will be impossible — the township used to have paper passes — to duplicate.

There will also be a list of residents who don’t want to be bothered that the solicitors must respect, or they will be charged with a crime, according to the township.

Explore CLOSER LOOK: Butler County communities review door to door sales rules

“Even if a resident doesn’t have a no solicitation sticker, the solicitor will be given a list of homes they cannot visit,” Trustee Tom Farrell said. “If a sticker is up, a registered solicitor could still walk down your driveway, up to your door.”

But, he said, “they see the no solicitation (sticker), they are supposed to leave. If they have the no solicitation list, they are being told don’t even go on the property.”

The rules say the salespeople are obligated to keep going back to check if more people have signed up.

Trustee Board President Christine Matacic said the township is going to make every effort to get the word out to their residents, because they assume not every vendor will follow the rules of applying for a permit and abiding by the rules.

“If our residents know what the rules are and somebody knocks on their door and they have the “do not solicit” sign or they are on the “do not solicit” list, we’ve advised them to get as much information from the individual and call the sheriff’s office,” she said.

The township ordered official no solicitation signs last summer after the issue surfaced as a problem and so far 1,300 to 1,500 residents have picked up a sticker.

Marlene Mundey, president of the Logsdon’s Ridge HOA, was a member of committee the township convened to craft the new policies. She stressed that all residents need to take advantage of the free stickers and know that they need to call the sheriff’s office “immediately” if a door to door solicitor shows up, so deputies have a better chance of catching and citing the scofflaws.

She said she is pleased with the new regulations but wishes the summer curfew wasn’t so late.

“The only thing that still concerns me are the hours that we agreed to last year, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. is still not in the best interest of the residents,” she said. “It allows for too much intrusion and possible safety issues.”

If vendors are issued a citation, that constitutes a misdemeanor and their permit can be suspended for a year, according to the new rules.

If they knock on the door of someone on the list or where there is a sign, they can be charged with criminal trespass, which carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine, according to the rules.

Craig Ratzman, who runs the Cincinnati branch for Aptive Environmental — the pest control company that sued the township — told the Journal-News last summer all 12 of the salespeople who were working in Liberty Twp. were background checked and trained to be respectful, contrary to what some residents had said during trustee meetings.

“We have a lot of business there in the township, so I would say that if we were disrespectful it would show otherwise. We wouldn’t have the business there …”

The township has drafted rules and regulations for the vendors and also a handout for residents so they know “in plain English” what the rules are, according to Farrell.

He said children under the age of 18 are not governed by the regulations.

“The reason for that is a 12-year-old was knocking on doors in his own neighborhood soliciting people to cut their grass…,” Farrell said. “One of the neighbors that he knocked on, they hired him to cut the grass, but they told him he can’t be knocking on the doors without a solicitation badge and of course it scared this 12-year-old kid.”

The permits are good for 90 days and applicants must pay a $50 application fee as well as $10 per salesperson up to a maximum of $150.

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