By Ben Orcutt - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to advertise for public hearing an ordinance that would prohibit solicitation on town streets.
The vote was 5-0 -- Councilman Thomas E. Conkey is on vacation -- and based on concerns of the panel over youths coming out into roadways to solicit for events like car washes.
Vice Mayor Bret W. Hrbek asked that the matter be brought forward in part due to a concern voiced by a town resident who was solicited for a car wash at the intersection of Royal Avenue and Main Street.
Hrbek said it does seem like a legitimate concern and a safety issue, and that holding a public hearing is a good idea. Hrbek said he also is aware of youths going onto Commerce Avenue to solicit donations.
"So I look forward to the public coming out and speaking about this so that we know which direction that the public would like to see us move," Hrbek said.
Councilman N. Shae Parker also weighed in.
"I want to encourage those organizations that do this type of activity to attend the public hearings so that we can get their input as well to find how much oversight maybe that they need," Parker said.
It could be, Parker added, that perhaps only a policy would be needed and not an ordinance to address concerns.
Councilman Carson C. Lauder Jr. also believes that safety is an issue.
"It could be an accident or someone hurt badly, so I will support it too," Lauder said of the motion.
Councilman Chris W. Holloway said that perhaps a form could be provided at the town office that organizations could pick up and a responsible adult who would be overseeing the activity identified.
Holloway said he does not have a problem with people being on sidewalks, but he does have a concern when they go out onto the street.
Councilman Thomas H. Sayre agreed that perhaps an ordinance would not be necessary to address the problem.
"Maybe if we just made an announcement for people to be more careful, not go out into the roads, that that would solve the issue," Sayre said. "I do know that people need to be near the road somewhat. Obviously, going out into the road isn't a good idea."
Although Conkey was absent from Monday's meeting, he has said in a work session that he is concerned about solicitation by youths on sidewalks for fear that a child could get pushed onto the street as the result of horseplay.