Brookfield’s village board is poised to move toward tighter regulation of door-to-door and other solicitors operating within the village.
On July 25, trustees are expected to adopt a new ordinance that specifies when and where solicitors can pitch their services or products and will prohibit solicitors from bothering residents who clearly indicate they don’t want solicitors knocking on their doors, especially after dark.
“We’ve had a number of residents calling trustees asking why Brookfield allows it to happen,” Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, who added that Brookfield does not have any laws on its books regulating solicitation within the village. “I think it’s about time we enact some specific things.”
While some in Brookfield would like to prohibit solicitors all together, Village Attorney Richard Ramello said doing so would run afoul of the First Amendment.
However, he said, the village can reasonably limit the times solicitors can contact residents and can require solicitors to register with the village. The draft ordinance suggests a registration fee of $25 annually for commercial solicitors. There would be no charge for non-commercial solicitation permits.
Those kinds of rules can help protect residents, often elderly, from people who pose as solicitors in order to gain access to homes and burglarize them.
“It also allows people to post a ‘no solicitation’ sign and have it enforced,” said Ramello.
A draft of the ordinance considered by Brookfield trustees on July 11 indicated that the village would prohibit solicitors from operating prior to 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. on any day. However, President Michael Garvey and other trustees were uncomfortable with that language and asked Ramello to amend the draft ordinance to tie the stop time for solicitation with sunset.
“I’m concerned about 9 p.m., because it’s dark early half the year,” Garvey said. “People will look at the ordinance and see 9 o’clock and they’ll be out there at 8:55 because they can.”
Trustee Cathy Colgrass Edwards, who is the board’s liaison to senior citizens, was also leery of the 9 p.m. stop time.
“I know seniors who go to bed at 9 o’clock, and they don’t want a sign, because they want the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to come around. I’m surprised we can’t say it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and not to be bothered after dark.”
Ramello said he could amend the language to state solicitation was prohibited 30 minutes after sunset, citing a previous court case in Illinois.
Trustee Brian Oberhauser expressed some concern that the ordinance would also prohibit solicitation on medians and roadways in the village. That type of solicitation, noted Trustee C.P. Hall, was typical of fraternal organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and VFW.
Ramello appeared to indicate that the restriction on such soliciting referred to solicitation for commercial purposes, although the draft ordinance as written doesn’t seem to make that distinction.
Anyone found to be in violation of a solicitation ordinance could be ticketed by police and face a fine between $75 and $750.