CLOVER — Churches and charitable groups that sell items or ask for donations on Clover streets will need to apply for a permit and follow safety rules under a new measure approved by the Town Council.
A divided council gave final approval last week to the measure, which requires organizations to apply for a permit with the Clover Police Department at least five days in advance of the solicitation date.
Council member Jay Dover, who proposed the measure, voted in favor of the regulation with council members Wes Spurrier, Todd Blanton and Granita Boyd. Voting against the measure were Mayor Donnie Grice and council members Debbie Littlejohn and Ann Harvey.
Dover said he suggested the measure — drafted by Town Manager Allison Harvey with Town Attorney Al Haselden — after watching people move among traffic as they try to collect donations.
“Seeing the folks that are doing the soliciting go back and forth in the roadway,” Dover said. “They do it on Saturday morning, and that’s a big time for folks out looking at yard sales and that kind of thing.”
Dover said the measure is “is being more proactive than reactive about the safety of the persons who are soliciting, as well as the drivers.” He noted the measure requires people who solicit or sell items to wear reflective vests and to have adult supervision for those younger than 16.
Grice argued against the measure during the council’s February meeting, when it received an initial vote of approval. Grice said the measure would be difficult to enforce and is “a perfect example of government sticking its foot into something that they need to leave alone.”
Dover said he did some research and learned that the cities of Rock Hill and Gastonia, N.C., both have similar measures. He said some groups who solicit in Clover have come from Gastonia.
“A lot of folks are coming from North Carolina because Gastonia requires a permit there. And the folks are saying, hey, we can go to Clover and do it and no problem,” Dover said.
However, he noted that the new measure limits groups who conduct solicitation to those based in South Carolina “and the folks that are in our community can benefit from it.”
Allison Harvey said she expects the town would be a little more lenient about enforcing some of the measure’s requirements for a couple months to allow groups time to learn how to comply.
For example, she said the town might be more lenient at first about requiring that a permit must be obtained five days in advance. “We want to give people a chance to understand and come into compliance,” she said.
Harvey said she hasn’t heard any feedback from the community.
“A lot of people will learn about this ordinance after they show up in town with their 200 boxes of donuts to sell,” she said. “Those are the groups that we will try to work with to make sure they’re in compliance.”
Under the measure approved by the council, solicitations would only be allowed at two spots: Main, Bethel and Kings Mountain streets and Bethel, Clinton and Sumter streets.
The measure lists about a dozen requirements for permit holders, including that all participants be at least 16 years old or accompanied by an adult age 21 or older; that they all wear a high-visibility vest; and that solicitation only be allowed during daylight hours.
The proposal also stipulates that participants may only approach vehicles that are stopped; that they “not cause a distraction to motorists”; that they “not impede pedestrian traffic”; and that the organization must hold up at least one 4-foot-square sign at all times that displays the name of the group.
It also said the town is not responsible for any injury or damage that results.