Transient merchant revision sent to city

Gray Hughes

An amendment to Hill City Municipal Code (HCMC) regarding transient merchants is being sent to the Hill City Common Council. The move came at Monday’s Hill City Planning and Zoning Commission  meeting.

“The city attorney (Katelyn Cook) has reviewed the proposed changes to HCMC 3.09 licensing and regulation of transient merchants,” said Dani Schade, development service coordinator for Hill City.

Cook recommended several changes to the code revision that the commission had been working on since the beginning of the year. Changes included changes to word choice, both the elimination and addition of several paragraphs, cleaning up and clarifying language and added wordage to clear up portions of the revision.

Commissioner Rollie Noem had several questions regarding the proposed revisions. His first question was with 3.09.3 C, which dealt with the application. The portion with which Noem raised questions regarded tracking goods that the transient merchants have, which reads “description of the goods or services he or she intends to handle, the date he or she acquired such goods, the name and address of the last person from whom he or she acquired them and the place from whence they were last moved.”

Schade said that portion of the revision both in the present code and in many other codes the city studied regarding what should be in the revision.

Noem, though, still had concerns.

“The fact that it seems to be a boilerplate thing doesn’t mean we need to have it,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with it, but it seems like a lot of extra work ... We are looking at revising our code and I just wanted to bring it up. I was curious as to why it was necessary.”

Commissioner Scooter Prosneski agreed with Noem, saying it creates a lot of unneeded work.

Schade said one reason why that portion of the code exists is in the event the goods the merchant is selling are stolen.

Noem said he believes it’s overreach. Prosneski agreed.

“Should (stolen goods) be the city’s problem?” Noem asked.

Commissioner Connie Wolters said she doesn’t know, but it’s the city that allows the transient merchants to be in business.

Noem recommended eliminating “the date he or she acquired such goods, the name and address of the last person from whom he or she acquired them and the place from whence they were last moved.”

Wolters said she doesn’t like messing with the attorney’s lingo.

Lorenna Freis, who owns Farmer’s Daughter in Hill City, said it seems like an unrealistic expectation for city staff. Others in the audience agreed.

“Where’s the time for that?” asked Jim Peterson. “Are they going to have to hire more staff?”

Schade reiterated the fact the language is presently in the code. She said the city doesn’t do anything with it, but possibly the sheriff’s deputies and city attorney does. Noem, though, reiterated that he doesn’t think it needs to be in the revised code.

“We are going through this whole ordinance,” he said. “If there is a change needed, why wouldn’t we consider making that change?”

Shade said other cities have that wordage in their codes and Cook looked through the proposed revision.

Schade said she would hate to see one question hold up the entire process.

Noem, though, said he thinks the commission should take another look at it.

“How do you police this?” Prosneski said.

After more discussion, Schade said she would do whatever the commission wants her to do. The commission came to a consensus that Noem’s suggestion should stand. Wolters was the sole commissioner opposed.

Noem, too, took issue with the costs for the licenses, which is $150 per day or $750 for 12 days. “I have no issue with cost per day,” he said. “Maybe you could do $150 per day and cap at $750 max for a maximum of 12 days.”

There was a consensus to make that change, as well. Noem had concerns regarding trash removal, too, where it reads, “merchants are responsible for checking with the city public works department to determine the appropriate dumpsters to be used for the disposal of trash and shall be responsible to transport any trash from their stands to said dumpsters.”

He was wondering, because of this wording, if the city would be responsible for providing trash containers for merchants.

The city would not be responsible, Schade said, and this part was added to the revision by Cook. The commission decided to remove that part and then came time to vote.

“We’re not bound by what the attorney says, but if she’s adamant and says, ‘You’re doing the wrong thing,’ I would be pretty trusting of the city council,” said Ron Walker, commission chairman. “They have our recommendation.”

The commission voted 5-0 to send it to the city council after Cook reviews the revisions. Schade said this would not be ready for the next council meeting after review by Cook. It would be ready by the Oct. 13 meeting.

“One way or another, this is going to city council,” Walker said.


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