PORTAGE | The city is looking to tighten up requirements for door-to-door solicitors.
The City Council's ordinance committee this week approved a proposed amendment to the city's ordinance regulating transient merchants and vendors. The proposed changes will now go to the full City Council for approval.
Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said the need to tighten the ordinance came from his office and the Board of Works, which approves licenses.
The present system, he said, virtually allows anyone to get a city license and may leave residents with a false sense of security that those knocking on their doors have been fully vetted by the city.
The present ordinance simply requires the city to do "an investigation into the business reputation and/or moral character" of the person submitting the application. Stidham said the city would conduct a limited criminal background check on the applicants.
However, he said, it was felt there needed to be a nationwide background check on the applicants.
If approved, the new requirement will be a background check, including a nationwide criminal record check, for each person signing the application as well as each person who will conduct business within the city on behalf of the applicant. The business will be required to pay for the background checks.
It would, said Stidham, be up to the Board of Works, based on the results of the background checks and other items in the application, to decide whether a license would be issued.
It will also require those receiving the license to "conspicuously" display a city-provided identification card while conducting business within the city.
The new proposal also limits the hours of operating in the city from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It also requires that a manager or supervisor be available by telephone during those hours of business.
The changes would also require a $25 application fee and would eliminate the present one-day permit, requiring permits from one month to one year in length. Fees for the licenses would not change.