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Ossipee Planning Board drafts hawkers ordinance

Five current temporary vendors lack current state licenses

November 04, 2010
OSSIPEE— Ice cream shops have closed up, the tent sale has been put away and the barbecue trailer is locked up for the winter. Opening up for the 2011 summer season could find several Ossipee vendors complying with some new regulations.

The planning board here, at the request of selectmen, has been working to draft the town's first Hawkers and Peddlers Ordinance. Through the NH Secretary of State's Office and NH RSA 320, traveling businesses and traveling contractors are required to get a State permit to sell their wares or services but many towns across the state have adopted their own ordinances, requiring these vendors to obtain an additional town-specific license. Ossipee's ordinance will not take effect until approved by the town attorney, selectmen, and a vote of town meeting.

A hawker and peddler is defined in NH RSA 320:1, in part, "as any person who travels from town to town or from place to place in the same town selling or bartering or carrying for sale or exposing therefore, any goods, wares, or merchandise whether on foot or from any animal, cart, or vehicle…."

Concern among some residents and town officials is whether businesses that are on wheels, considering themselves hawkers and peddlers exempt from town regulation, should be considered temporary and mobile under the intent of the law. Or if they should be required to submit to the application processes under site plan review and zoning, just as other businesses do, when they remain in the same location year after year.

A review of the property record files for five properties along Route 16 where "temporary" businesses are located reveals none have gone through the traditional zoning application process. Inquiries to the selectmen and the town's zoning officer revealed these businesses do not have to apply for zoning permits or site plan review to get permission to operate since they are "temporary" and therefore the vendors should have state permits, absolving the town from any obligation to regulate them.

Calls to the NH Secretary of State's Office revealed that each of the five businesses meet the state's definition of hawkers and peddlers, because the businesses – a coffee shop and a barbecue food take-out restaurant in Ossipee Corner and a coffee shop, ice cream/produce shop, and a tent sale in West Ossipee - are on wheels or can be moved easily from place to place. A search of that office's records, however, found no annual state permits have been issued to any of the five businesses. John Lungo, operating the ice cream stand in West Ossipee, did have a state permit issued in June 2008 but that expired June 3, 2009.

So what will change for vendors like these as well as traveling contractors if the town's ordinance is adopted? Anyone deemed a hawker or peddler by state definition will be required to show proof they have a state permit and apply for a town license. And if they plan to sell for more than 30 consecutive days in Ossipee at the same location they will be required to file a site plan with the planning board.

According to the proposed ordinance, anyone selling "products of his own labor" such as crafts or a lemonade stand or selling personal goods on his own property such as a yard sale would not be required to obtain a license. Ossipee Planning Board Chairman Bill Grover gave examples of potatoes and firewood. If a person grows potatoes and sells them, a license is not required. If a person buys 1,000 potatoes from a friend then packages them and sells them, a permit would be required.

The same would apply to a person cutting trees on his own property and bundling and selling the firewood. Also, non-profit or other charitable organizations such as Girl Scouts selling cookies would be exempt from licensure.

Other requirements of the Ossipee ordinance include that vendors must carry liability insurance naming the town as additional insured; they must submit to a criminal background check; they are not allowed to sell items similar to any established business within 100 feet; they must have a fire extinguisher; they must follow signage restrictions; and they cannot operate their business between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Copies of the draft ordinance are available at Ossipee Town Hall. Information about the State law and application can be found at http://www.sos.nh.gov/H&PLaw.html.

Martin Lord Osman
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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