County adopts transient merchant regulations

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


A new ordinance regulating peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants was adopted by the Houston County Board at their June 4 meeting. The ordinance came before the board at the recommendation of Houston County Sheriff Doug Ely, who said the presence of such workers in the county generates inquiries at his office.

Residents will see unfamiliar cars and have people knock on their doors and they call the sheriff to find out if the situation is legitimate.

“The biggest reason is because there’s no control over it now. We don’t know who is in the county.  We get calls every year on suspicious vehicles, and the other problem we’ve had was a blacktopping scam,” Sheriff Deputy Luke Sass said during a public hearing on the matter.

The new ordinance, which received a unanimous nod, requires peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants to go to the court house and fill out an extensive application. The application includes questions about the individual’s residence, employer and car and requires a copy of the person’s driver’s license.

The cost to process the application is $25. An additional $25 is assessed to transient merchants for a seven-day license; $75 to a peddler for a 30-day license; and $75 to a solicitor for a 30-day license.

Peddler is described as: any person with no fixed place of business who goes from house to house, from place to place or from street to street carrying or transporting goods, wares or merchandise and offering or exposing the same for sale, or making sales and deliveries to purchasers of the same.

Solicitor is described as: any person who goes from house to house, from place to place or from street to street soliciting or taking or attempting to take orders from any goods, wares or merchandise, including books, periodicals, magazines or personal property of any nature whatsoever for future delivery.

Transient merchant is described as: any person, firm or corporation who engages temporarily in the business of selling and delivering goods, wares or merchandise within the county and who, in furtherance of such purpose, hires, leases, uses or occupies any building, structure, vacant lot, motor vehicle, trailer or railroad car.

“If they don’t have a permit it’s a violation of ordinance and we can fine them for it,” Sass said.

The ordinance applies strictly to the townships and does not supersede any city regulation. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, churches and other organizations of the like are exempt.

Commissioner Teresa Walter said she believed the townships will be happy with the new oversight.

No public comment came during the hearing other than a question about how peddlers will know about the regulation.

The process will be outlined on the county’s website.

Anyone seeking such a permit will need to provide ample time for processing (about two weeks) as all applications will be investigated by the sheriff’s department.

“You won’t get it in a day,” Sass said.