NEWTON GROVE — The Newton Grove Board of Commissioners addressed a short agenda Tuesday evening but spent the most time discussing the possibility of a new ordinance regarding peddlers or itinerant merchants. They discussed items to include in the proposed ordinance with hopes the board’s attorney could have a proposal by the August meeting.
The commissioners have been discussing the problem with so many peddlers or itinerant merchants who are setting up on the circle to offer their wares, oftentimes, town officials said, without any permit or acknowledgement to the town.
Mayor Gerald Darden stressed in an earlier meeting that the practice of those merchants operating on the sides of the street did not give the town a good appearance and was also in direct competition with one of the town’s permanent merchants. The mayor and Commissioner Gary Mack Herring met together to compile recommendations to be included in the proposed ordinance.
Herring offered those recommendations to the board earlier this week, recommendations that included a definition of a transient merchant or itinerant merchant. According to the definition, an itinerant merchant is “any person, firm or corporation, whether as owner, agent, consignee or employee, whether a resident of the city or not, who engages in temporary business of selling and delivering goods, wares and merchandise within said city, and who in furtherance of such purpose, hires, leases, uses or occupies any building, structure, motor vehicle, tent, railroad box car, or boat, public room in hotels, lodging houses, apartment, shops, or any street, alley, or other place within the city, for the exhibition and sale of such goods, wares and merchandise, either privately or at public auction.”
The commissioner went on to explain the proposal for the ordinance would include the following requirements: Name and information of the applicant or merchant; proof of North Carolina Sales Tax number; description of goods to be sold; must meet existing zoning requirements; a written letter from the landowner granting permission; merchant will be required to have their license displayed at the place of business; pay an application fee of $100 which would include a criminal background check; and pay the permit/license fee of $200 per year.
“The annual permit/license fee would be pro-rated for those who decide to set up a business during the year,” explained Herring.
Discussion centered on whether exceptions could or would be included in the future ordinance. The board concluded that local residents will be able to conduct a yard sale in their own yard up to four times per year, but those holding the yard sale would be required to come by the town hall and sign up for a free permit for the yard sale. The proposal for the ordinance would also exempt regularly established churches, civic organizations, regularly established brotherhoods and schools.
The board also requested their attorney include in the proposed ordinance that a fee of $250 per ticketed violation would be assessed to be paid to the town. If not paid within a set amount of time, then court action would be taken.
In other matters, it was noted during the departmental reports that there was a large pothole developing on South Johnston Street and the mayor stated the town would take care of it. There were no other problems discussed from any other departments.
Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce executive director Janna Bass made one of her town appearances at the meeting to introduce herself to the board and share that a Chamber Day will be set in November when she will be in town all day to work with the merchants and Chamber members in Newton Grove.
Assistant town clerk Amanda Turner, who is serving as acting clerk while town clerk Sheila Barefoot is out on medical leave, shared with the board that she would be willing to serve as the chairwoman for the Fourth of July Celebration for 2013. Commissioner Barbara Burch said the matter of the town’s lack of celebration had been presented to her on several occasions since the holiday last week. Darden also stated that he had received comments from people wishing the town would resume its annual celebration.
The town halted its fireworks and park events a few years ago due to budget constraints.
Turner expressed that she would like to see the event reestablished in town and hoped that not only the town’s residents but those living outside the city limits would join in the effort to hold an event next year.
“I do not think the town should have to pay for the entire event. It is my thinking that the people who live outside the town’s limits should do something to help support our celebration as they will also be benefiting from anything we have here in town,” Turner said.
The board concurred and approved for Turner to head the committee and to also seek funds from anyone wishing to help support the town’s efforts to hold a Fourth of July event next year.
The commissioners then went into a brief closed door session to discuss a personnel matter. Upon returning to the meeting members approved an increase in Turner’s salary while she is filling in for Barefoot.