City looks at garage sale ordinance after complaints
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | June 10,2013
The city is looking at closing a loophole in the garage sale ordinance.
The issue came before the Board of Aldermen last week and was referred to the Charter and Ordinance Committee. Assistant Building Inspector Robert Barrett said he went to the board after complaints regarding a Pine Street address.
“They were doing unlimited yard sales, taking business away from thrift shops that have to pay taxes,” Barrett said. “We’re just trying to get it fixed so everybody’s on a level playing field.”
The ordinance limits individuals and nonprofits to holding four garage sales a year, though each of those sales may go on for a long as three consecutive days. However, it only applies to properties zoned residential — those in commercial or industrial zones are exempt.
Barrett said the first block of Pine north of West Street is still technically part of downtown and as such zoned commercial.
Alderwoman Sharon Davis said she recalls when the ordinance was rewritten and believes the exemptions were put in place so as not to prevent businesses from doing sidewalk sale-type events.
The Pine Street address is an apartment house. Kathy Frazier, who lives on the same block, said she had done some but not all of the sales there and that they were not “unlimited.”
“There have only been, I think, a total of four yard sales this summer,” she said. “Two have been mine and two have been other people’s. I don’t understand what the issue is.”
Frazier said she planned to do two more, keeping her under the limit.
“I had the city come and make an issue of it, but they’re not all mine,” she said.
City Attorney Charles Romeo said the wording of the ordinance seemed to allow different individuals holding garage sales at the same address.
“I think one could view it that way,” he said. “It gets a little gray — when you have multiple people accessing the property, who is permitting or organizing the sale?”