| Sarah Heinonen
WILBRAHAM – Wilbraham residents will vote on whether to adopt a new town by-law that would prohibit “door-to-door solicitors or peddlers.” The by-law is included as Article 46 on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, which will be voted upon at the town meeting on May 13.
The new ordinance, an amendment to the “Regulations of Public Conduct” by-law, would require any person or organization that travels “from place to place” and sells goods or services, or takes orders for those goods or services, to obtain a license from the police chief. Only salespeople would be affected by this by-law. It would exempt those who travel door-to-door “for religious, charitable, civic, or political purposes.”
The licensing fee would be $25 per applicant and the application would be due at least 10 days before the engaging sales. The salespeople would be given a “licensed solicitor” card.
Capt. Edward Lennon of the Wilbraham Police said the by-law has been in the works for a couple of years.
“The main reason, we get calls asking if people are legitimate,” said Lennon. He said that when someone is going door-to-door in a neighborhood, the police will get several calls from neighbors within 15 minutes. If people are licensed, he said, they will be able to look up a person’s photo and they could reduce their license to assuage people’s concerns.
The by-law allows the police chief to reject licenses for anyone convicted of murder, rape, robbery, arson, breaking and entering, felony assault, felony larceny, or is a level 2 or 3 sex offender. If a licensed individual was to be convicted of any of those crimes they would have their license revoked.
In addition to legal criteria, the solicitor would need to adhere to a code of conduct or face license revocation. The rules of conduct would prohibit solicitors from lying to potential customers, being a “menace to health, safety, or general welfare,” or harassment and high-pressure tactics.
Lennon said the most common solicitors are from solar companies, lawn care services, and electricity vendors.
Lennon said that in the rare event that, “suspicious people are using vending as a cover,” to commit a crime, the police would know they were not legitimate.
“It’s definitely for residents’ peace of mind,” Lennon said.