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Woodbury updates 'Peddlers and Solicitors' ordinance

An updated city ordinance will ensure that door-to-door solicitors and peddlers cannot circle Woodbury without a clean criminal history.

City Council approved last Wednesday an amendment in an already existing ordinance that will protect residents from illegitimate or potentially dangerous solicitors.

Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague said the amendment is necessary because of some changes in the process of conducting background checks.

Additionally, new language modeled after a League of Minnesota Cities ordinance was added to the "peddlers and solicitors" city code.

The difference between peddlers and solicitors is the way the product is received - peddlers sell things on the spot, while solicitors take orders and ship the merchandise later.

The new ordinance will continue to require each individual salesperson to register for a permit, Vague said, adding that the city has, in the past, denied permits to those with a criminal history.

"Already we have been able to deny people permit or registration who have been convicted of sexual assault, burglaries and weapon charges," Vague said.

The existing ordinance has been on the books since 2005.

Vague said it's been successful overall, but like other laws, it needed updating.

So far, no serious crimes have been reported in Woodbury involving a solicitor or a peddler, but police have gotten multiple complaints about some pushy reps who refuse to leave people's homes, Vague said.

"Spring time is peddling season and that's when we see people come out," he added.

Since the ordinance was adopted a few years ago, legitimate peddlers and solicitors are aware of the process they have to go through to obtain permits, however Vague said there are always some who insist on breaking the law.

"We always are going to have people that don't come in, that don't go through the process and those are the ones that inevitably generate calls," he said.

Those who violate city code can be cited or even arrested, Vague said.

The ordinance regulates individual solicitors and peddlers, not groups or companies, he explained.

"In some cases we were still able to approve that group but that individual was unable to do business in our city," he said.

On the other hand, nonprofits, church organizations or politicians going door-to-door are exempt from applying for the permit, according to the updated ordinance.

Council members Amy Scoggins and Paul Rebholz, along with Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, approved the amendment but could not approve publishing it due to the absence of council members Christopher Burns and Julie Ohs. The council needs at least four of five members to publish city code.

"I think it's a worthwhile ordinance," Vague said.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.