HINSDALE, N.H. -- Several residents attended a public hearing Monday to express their opposition to a proposed yard sale ordinance.
The ordinance, if passed, would increase from four to 10 the number of yard sales a property is allowed to hold each year, but would for the first time ever require a permit and impose a $10 fee. Permits would have to be applied for at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled day of the yard sale, or tag sale.
The ordinance would also establish ground rules for signage - regulated by the Hinsdale Zoning Ordinance as being temporary and not to exceed 3 square feet in size. All signs would have to bear the name of the property owner, as well as the street address, date and time of sale and a rain date. They would also have to be removed at the end of the same day the sale is held or the permit holder would be fined $25.
Joe Conroy stood up to address the board and brought three different signs with him. He said the proposed size rules are silly because the town's policemen would have to enforce them.
"He's going to have to measure every sign and if you're not in compliance, according to the way I read it, he's going to fine you $100 a day until somebody takes that sign down and makes it proper size," he said. "I have as many as eight signs up in one day when I have a tag sale. Other people in town have seven, eight, nine signs. Is that policeman going to go around and measure every one of these?"
There would be a one-yard sale- per-permit limit, and no sale could exceed a length of 48 hours on regular weekends and 72 hours on holiday weekends. In the case of a multi-family yard sale, each dwelling involved would be counted as having one. Any violation of the ordinance would result in a $100 fine for each day an offense continues.
Conroy told the selectmen he attends almost every yard sale in town because he buys items to sell on eBay.
"This summer, on the other end of Plain Road, there was an elderly woman - she was probably in her 80s - and she had a tag sale. Her husband died and she was trying to sell his tools. ... You could tell she had nothing," he said. "Now, according to this ordinance, if she doesn't do everything that's on this list ... are you going to charge that woman $25 plus $100?"
Conroy's question prompted a woman to ask why the town was so hard up for money that it needed a yard sale ordinance.
Town Administrator Jill Collins informed her that there has been a yard sale ordinance in place in the town since 2002.
Some members of the board, including Smith, said they saw no need for a yard sale ordinance. Smith reiterated that it is just a draft and nothing is official.
Dwight Sprague, who last week spoke to the Reformer about his opposition to the draft ordinance, also attended the public hearing with his wife, Cathy. He previously told the Reformer he holds a handful of yard sales every summer at his 789 Brattleboro Road residence and uses the money to help make ends meet.
He said he used to attend flea markets in Newfane and Wilmington, Vt., but is unable to now because his wife, who has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, cannot be left alone or in the sun for long periods of time. He said he has been holding yard sales since the 1960s and now sells general items to help pay for his wife's medical bills.
He told the selectmen on Monday that the yard sales are also a social event for Cathy, who cannot get out as often as he can.
Selectman Jay Ebbighausen said his concern is not about citizens holding casual yard sales but rather those trying to cheat the system for personal gain.
"We've got to come up with something that protects the average person that's having a yard sale versus someone that is using it on an on-going basis, and they're really running a business," he said. "That's what I grapple with."
It was unclear on Wednesday when the selectmen plan to vote on the draft ordinance.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-2542311, ext. 277.