The Bentonville City Council made changes to the city’s door-to-door sales ordinance Tuesday night, in a move aldermen say strikes the right balance between preserving freedoms and protecting citizens.
The council voted unanimously during its regular monthly meeting to loosen existing ordinances concerning door-to-door sales within the city, while still keeping certain restrictions.
The previous ordinance virtually outlawed door-to-door sales within Bentonville, but the newly-passed code allows for solicitation as long as salespeople pick up permits and follow certain guidelines. Solicitors are required to sign a sworn statement with Bentonville police stating they have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving dishonesty in the last 10. Sex offenders are also prohibited from carrying out door-to-door sales, according to the ordinance.
Legal salespeople must pick up a permit from police, although there is no fee associated with the permit. Several religious and charitable organizations are exempt from restrictions, including the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Alderman Roger Thomas said safety was a primary concern for the council while considering the issue. Police Chief Jon Simpson expressed to the council that the old ordinance was too restrictive and virtually impossible to enforce. A proposed ordinance change last month was also potentially too restrictive. Thomas said the ordinance passed Tuesday night follows common sense guidelines while allowing police to enforce them.
The Bentonville City Council considered a similar ordinance last month that included a fee for soliciting permits and required background checks. That proposal was sent back to city officials to restructure for this month.
Bentonville’s new door-to-door ordinance comes just a week after Fayetteville leaders voted to tighten sales restrictions in their own city, imposing a $45 permit fee, along with a required criminal background check. At both Bentonville and Fayetteville, hours of operation for door-to-door sales are now set from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Springdale passed a similar ordinance last year, requiring paid permits for solicitors.