New Market adding teeth to yard sale limit

By Ryan Cornell

NEW MARKET — Town Council is adding teeth to an 18-year-old ordinance limiting homeowners to two yard sales per year.

Section 22-41 of New Market’s town code states that a household in a residential district will be allowed only two yard sales annually. Each of those sales cannot exceed a 72-hour consecutive period. For households in commercial districts, the code limits them to two free yard sales per year with an annual permit required for additional sales.

The new ordinance, adopted by Town Council at its meeting on Monday, would make a violation of the code a Class 4 misdemeanor with a fine up to $250.

Town Manager Mike Ritchie said households that exceed the two-yard sale limit would receive a letter notifying them of the violation. If the violations continue, he said the town would have the right to fine them.

Although the law has been on the books for nearly 20 years, there has never been a penalty for those who violate the ordinance.

“It’s very rare that it actually becomes a problem,” Ritchie said, “but there have been instances in the past, and other than a harshly worded letter, that’s as far as we got.

“We really don’t envision using this as a penalty as much as encouraging compliance.”

Councilman Eddie Litten said there are people who make a living off yard sales by buying equipment and reselling it, sometimes as frequently as every weekend.

“At some point in time, if I were a business owner and I was paying a license and paying a tax on everything I sold,” he said, “I would be pretty unhappy if there was somebody that continually had yard sales and pays no taxes.”

Two council members, Tim Palmer and Peggy Harkness, expressed concern over the penalty, and said they would like to see the limit doubled to four yard sales per year.

Harkness said there are people who rely on yard sales to supplement their meager income.

Palmer said his daughter often buys clothes for her growing kid at community yard sales.

“We currently have like five or six grandkids with one on the way and look at yard sales to buy some of those items,” he said.

Litten said there needs to be a better way of enforcing the ordinance than just a cease and desist letter.

“I’ve always said my rule of thumb in life and business is that if there’s a rule, you gotta have a way to follow it,” he said. “It shouldn’t be an open book that says we have it, but who cares.”

The ordinance was approved 5 to 1, with Harkness voting against it.

It does not apply to special events such as the Route 11 Yard Crawl.

In other business, Council approved sending a $1,000 donation to the New Market American Legion Post 166.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or