During Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Councilman Albert Dickson resumed what has been a steady effort to defeat implementation of a possible law regulating yard sales. A law won’t achieve its goals, he told his colleagues.
The board will resume a public hearing on the issue on Friday.
While some have argued that the proposal was aimed at stopping one particular person from actions that are objectionable to neighbors, that’s not Mr. Dickson’s stance. Instead, he said the problem is cleaning up properties littered with debris. This law would not address that issue, he said. That problem is larger and more egregious, the councilman added.
He further objected to penalties contained in the law that would could cost a first-time violator a $250 fine. But every seven days, another instance of violating the law could be charged.
What if fines mounted to a point where a violator couldn’t pay the fines? Would that person end up in prison? he wondered.
All laws have to have penalties for violations, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. said. But rather than toss a repeated violator in prison, the courts would provide a means of payments over time, he predicted. He also noted the proposed law in this case is not a “clean up your yard” effort, but an effort to control frequency, length and actions surrounding when yard sales would be allowed, how many could a person schedule in a year and what steps would be implemented concerning requirements to clear away signage and items after a sale ends.
Resident Sandra O’Connor wondered how a yard sale law would be enforced and who would be charged with such enforcement.
Comments at the initial public hearing ranged from those who viewed such a law as overkill, or unnecessary on the Island, to those who saw it as a means of controlling hours of operation, parking issues and an end to the occasional seller running what appeared to be a full-time business from a front lawn, while maintaining it was simply a yard sale.
“I think we’ve got to start somewhere,” Supervisor Gerry Siller said, defending his view that a law is needed.
It seems likely that the proposal currently on the town website could undergo some rewriting based on input from the public hearings prior to action by the full Town Board.
Commerce on town-owned properties
What started as a discussion about a single food truck operated this past summer at Crescent Beach by Islander restaurant operator Ashley Knight has become the impetus for a wider discussion of how many and what types of businesses could be allowed and circumstances by which they could be licensed to operate.
In addition to Ms. Knight’s food truck at Crescent Beach this summer, the site has also allowed businesses involved in paddle boarding, water taxis and beach massages.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed Sunset Beach’s hotel and restaurant business this summer, the food truck was welcomed by beach goers. Whether it would conflict with the Sunset Beach operation in a normal summer is one of the issues the Town Board will have to debate.
Board members seemed inclined Tuesday to give preference for operations at beaches and other town-owned sites to owners of Island brick and mortar businesses. What was obvious is the discussion is only in its early stages. At the same time, Town Board members want to move quickly enough that by February they can decide the direction of any law so that businesses are able to make their plans in March for the summer of 2021. And with that, next summer could be a test of any new regulations to determine what changes might be needed in future years.
Councilman Mike Bebon, who is working with the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Board, noted that even though a new draft of the Plan wouldn’t be ready by next summer, the eventual plan should reflect “a sense of place” in terms of how allowing businesses on town-owned land could affect what residents and business owners want the town to look like in future years.
Fees for various services in relation to the Recycling Center — many affecting commercial operations — are set to increase. But along with them are raises proposed to purchase town garbage bags. The aim is to cover costs of operations.
Councilman Jim Colligan said the public needs to understand the aim isn’t to increase revenue but to cover expenses.
Just when the new fees would take affect is not yet determined, but Supervisor Siller said he would speak to Public Works Commissioner Brian Sherman before a resolution is subject to a vote on Friday .
Proposed hikes include the following increases:
• From $60 a ton to $70 per ton for disposal of brush
• From $65 to $75 per ton for disposal of tree stumps
• From $200 to $240 per ton for construction and demolition debris
• From $40 to $50 per ton for concrete or asphalt
• From $200 to $240 per ton for waste.
Town garbage bags increase by 25 per small bag, 50 cents per medium bag and 75 cents per large bag.
There’s expected to be an increase on leaf debris, but that has to be worked out, Mr. Siller said.