Metro councilman pushing for tough solicitation ordinance - WSMV Channel 4

Metro councilman pushing for tough solicitation ordinance

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A Metro councilman is pushing a bill to keep door-to-door salesmen and those so-called "storm chasers" from coming to your house making that hard sell.

When hail storms pummeled parts of Middle Tennessee earlier this spring many communities were not only flooded with rain, but door-to-door salesmen according to Metro Councilman Phil Claiborne.

"We had a couple of solicitation groups that were pretty aggressive."

So aggressive in fact, hundreds of homeowners lodged complaints with the Metro Police Department and district representatives like Claiborne. But under the current solicitation law the councilman said there was little they could do - something Claiborne hopes to change.

"We're trying to bring some structure and some accountability and at the same time give the resident out there an opportunity to say 'I don't want to be bothered with these folks.'"

Claiborne sponsored a bill he plans to introduce at Tuesday's council meeting placing tough new restrictions on solicitors. If passed, the process to get a solicitors permits will be streamlined being issued only through the clerk's office. All solicitors will have to get a background check. Those who've been convicted, pleaded guilty or been incarcerated in the past five years for crimes like rape, assault or drug dealing will be denied permits.

"This is your vinyl siding guy, your storm window guy, your pressure washing guy," Claiborne said.

John Sparkman with Sparkman Roofing Remodeling & Restoration has been in the business for nearly two decades and admits going door-to-door on a number of occasions. But he also sees the need for tougher restrictions.

"A lot of storm chasers are pushy and they're like 'sign here, sign here,'" Sparkman said.

Part of the bill has a provision similar to the Do Not Call List which prevents telemarketers from calling you at home. Homeowners can put their homes on a "no solicitation" list. Permits will last two years and if for some reason a business permit is revoked Claiborne said there will be an appeals process. The Metro Council will consider the proposal at their meeting next week.

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