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Roadside Solicitors Could Face New Oswego Restrictions

Sep 01, 2015 08:49PM ● Published by Steven Jack

The intersection of Routes 34 and 30 is a popular spot for roadside solicitors. (Image courtesy Google Streetview)

Those solicitors collecting money along major roadways around Oswego could see some changes in where they operate in the village and how often.

Oswego Police Chief Jeff Burgner brought the issue to the Village Board at its Tuesday night meeting, saying the amount of complaints about the solicitors has surged in recent years, and a recent rear-end accident at Routes 34 and 30 was attributed to the driver becoming distracted by a solicitor. 

"For me this is more of a safety issue" Burgner said. "It seems like a good time to look at this. ... As we start to widen Route 71 we'll have several five-lane highways running through our community."

Burgner said the village has received a total of 150 solicitor complaints in the past three years, with the majority regarding those collecting money from drivers on area streets. The village of Montgomery, which has jurisdiction over much of the intersection of Routes 34 and 30, has received 100 similar complaints in the same time frame, Burgner said. 

Burgner proposed changes to the village's current soliciting ordinance, which was last updated in 2004 and allows for the solicitors. He said limiting the areas where soliciting is allowed in the village could be the most effective. He also suggested possibly limiting the amount of times an organization could solicit in the village during a given year. 

Most trustees supported both those changes; however, Trustee Joe West said the village should do away with roadside soliciting altogether.

"I think it's a major safety issue," he said. "I think we should eliminate it. ... There are plenty of other locations where people can solicit for fundraisers."

Pam Parr said she would also support limiting the organizations to local groups, as she's discovered that some are even coming to the area from out of state. 

"I know there is a church in Tennessee that sends people up by the flock. ... I know because I've asked them where they're from, ... and then the money goes back to Tennessee," Parr said. 

Burgner said the next step will be take Trustee feedback and discuss options with Montgomery Police Chief Daniel Meyers so that both villages may craft similar ordinances that would lead to consistency for those wishing to solicit in areas bordering both communities. 

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