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Westerly may ban door-to-door salesmen


WESTERLY — The Fuller Brush man’s days may be numbered in Westerly.

Well, that iconic salesman’s days may have already passed but his descendants, if some town officials have their way, would soon be officially unwelcome. On Monday the Town Council will consider an ordinance prohibiting all door-to-door sales except for those carried out by charitable groups such as the Girl Scouts or religious organizations.

Westerly Police Chief Edward St. Clair proposed the ban, which was discussed by the council’s Committee to Review the Code of Ordinances.

“What we typically see in Westerly are magazine sales, cleaning products, or home maintenance work such as roofing and driveway sealing. Many of these companies fail to apply for a license. Whether or not they obtain a license, when they begin to go door to door we always receive numerous complaints,” St. Clair said.

Door-to-door sales are allowed under the current ordinance. Salespeople are required to obtain a license by first obtaining clearance from the police department. Licenses are then issued by the town clerk’s office for $10 per sales day. No licenses were issued in 2013 or 2012, the clerk’s office said.

Residents, unaware that sales are allowed by people who are licensed, often report them as suspicious persons, St. Clair said. “Many times a van load of subjects are dropped off in a neighborhood and begin to go door to door. When we receive complaints these subjects have no way to communicate with the operator of the van and oftentimes do not even know what town they are in,” he said.

Residents have complained, St. Clair said, that the door-to-door salespeople present an “invasion of privacy” and an uninvited presence on their property.

In addition to the exemption for charitable groups, the proposed ban would not affect sales at businesses, the police chief said.

Town Manager Michelle Buck said the proposed ban warrants consideration in light of complaints received over the years by the police department.

“Given that fact, yes I think it is a good idea to bring it forward for consideration and public debate,” Buck said.

The Town Council meets Monday at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a public hearing on the proposed ordinance.



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