Fraser passes ordinance for street solicitation

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 26, 2014

FRASER — The Fraser City Council unanimously voted to amend the terms of unwarranted street solicitations Aug. 14.

City Attorney Jack Dolan drafted the ordinance in response to different groups and organizations taking over streets and posing risks in the process of claiming donations.

More specifically, the council voted that solicitation would be allowed, via permit, on eight total dates throughout the calendar year. Permits must be applied for by Jan. 1 of each year.

No group or organization is allowed more than two dates per year. Applicants can apply for up to two dates per permit, with consecutive days being an option. So, for example, eight different organizations could technically acquire eight separate permits for the same day; or, if four different groups sought a permit, the end result would be four permits with two dates per group.

City Manager Rich Haberman must approve the permits before they can go into effect.

“What we’re talking about is the people out there with Tootsie Rolls or other things, collecting on the behalf of service agencies or for whatever purpose,” Dolan said at the meeting. “These are people who are actually in the right of way within the travel lanes of a roadway, and we are looking to continue to regulate this because it draws a lot upon our public safety and those resources to make sure that things are safely transpiring when this activity takes place.”

The integral aspect of this ordinance is that it creates a safety net for both the city and the groups that make their way into public roadways seeking monetary donations and the like, officials said. Permits will be acquired on a first-come, first-served basis to provide the Public Safety Department an adequate amount of time to plan deployment and have the “necessary manpower” to observe such occurrences.

Mayor Doug Hagerty approved the eight-day permit process, rather than a six-day process that was suggested, because the ordinance is new and can be amended in the future if the eight-day format is unsatisfactory, he said.

He said he understands why nonprofit groups hit the streets in a fundraiser format, but the number of groups that have infiltrated Fraser in recent years has become too much.

“If there was another way to do a fundraiser, I would choose to get rid of these guys dancing in the middle of our streets,” Hagerty said. “It seems to have escalated here in the city over the last couple of years with these groups that come in, that are non-Fraser-related groups.”

Dolan noted that permits are available for all groups to attain as part of the content-neutral ordinance.

“(The ordinance) does not give preference or discriminate in any way towards either the nature or type of activity that is out there operating underneath it, nor does it give any preference based on residence,” Dolan said, “and we’re not allowed to do that.”

Councilman Paul Cilluffo was one of the council members who favored the six-day permit format, but he supported the ordinance’s approval due to the perils that come with group members soliciting in the streets.

“I want to encourage civic groups that do so much good for this community to look at another way, because it would be a catastrophe if somebody were to either be killed or hurt really bad,” Cilluffo said. “There is a certain amount of liability for the city, as well as the civic group that’s doing it.”

Cilluffo added that surrounding communities have cracked down on such forms of fundraising, and he understands why it’s happened.

“It’s kind of a sobering thing, unfortunately, but in the day of liability and everything else, we have to really look at these things carefully,” he said. “And there is, for certain, an element of danger of being out there.”