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Connellsville: City again looks at yard sale ordinance

| Friday, Nov. 28, 2003

In an effort to curb residents who hold frequent sales out of their homes, Connellsville City Council is again considering passing an ordinance placing limitations on garage and yard sales in the city.

Councilwoman Judy Keller this month introduced the ordinance, which would distinguish the difference between a garage or yard-type sale and a retail or consignment business, designate enforcement personnel, provide for certain exemptions and prescribe penalties for violation.

According to Keller, the ordinance doesn't call for residents to obtain a license or permit to have a sale like a previous ordinance she introduced. Last year, that ordinance was withdrawn from council's agenda before it was scheduled to be adopted due to a lack of public support.

This ordinance, Keller maintains is different. It allows residents to have 15 "episodes" in one year. An episode is defined as a 24-hour day.

Keller said her intention is not to limit those who have a couple of sales a year, but the people who make it habitual having sales "day after day, week after week. It's an eyesore."

"I'm talking about protecting the sanctity of residential neighborhoods. That's our intent," Keller added.

Keller believes those people are running a consignment business and should have to pay the business license fee of $15 just like every other business in Connellsville. Although that would mean an increase in funds coming into the city, Keller said that isn't the reason she wants this ordinance.

"I didn't propose the ordinance for the revenue," said Keller. "It's not fair for the other businesses in town. You have to call it like it is. If it's a business, don't try to camouflage it as a yard sale. If you want to run a business, open a storefront. We need storefronts downtown. You don't do it in a residential area."

The ordinance includes not only garage and yard sales, but any sale of three or more new, used or secondhand products at a residence -- inside or out.

Council unanimously approved the ordinance's introduction and will vote to adopt it after it has sat for 30 days for public inspection.

In other business, council:

= Transferred $7,500 from the Scottdale Bank and Trust investment account, $100 from minor tools in police department budget, $500 from zoning officer salary and $200 from assistant code officer salary in health department budget, $150 from office supplies in accounts and finance department and $250 from PA One Call in public works department into miscellaneous/contingency line item; and $100 from zoning officer salary into fuel in the health department budget.

= Paid $2,520 to Edmunds and Associates for 2004 accounting software license fee; $53,298.21 to Pompei and Sons for work completed on city parking lots; $1,262.50 to Widmer Engineering for project management and inspection of parking lot project; $540 and $565 to Mockenhaupt Benefits Group for quarterly actuarial/consulting fees and audit findings for police and fire pension plans, respectively.

= Contributed $38,453.98 to the police pension fund and $41,590.21 to the fire pension fund based on calculations from the state Auditor General's office.

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