Perpetual yard sales

Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw’s yard sale legislation, introduced last year, has passed after some tweaking he and Council President Larry Antoskiewicz made. It is meant to limit “perpetual yard sales,” those homes that regularly sell items at the curb, in an effort to avoid blight.

NORTH ROYALTON – After originally proposing legislation to limit “perpetual yard sales” along main roads last year but experiencing a lack of support, one councilman has finally sold his colleagues on the idea.

City Council voted May 15 to enact an ordinance that limits front yard sales to a specific time frame and footage from the street.

Per the ordinance, items are not permitted to be on display for sale in the front yard of a residentially-zoned district between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday, federal holidays excluded. When items are displayed, they must be located at least 35 feet from the street pavement and at least 10 feet from side property lines.

It’s a topic originally brought forward in city council’s building and building codes committee by Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw last June after complaints from residents with qualms about specific offenders who endlessly have items set out on their tree lawns for sale – bird cages, car parts, lawn mowers – sometimes for months, even years at a time, creating blight.

He sought a tool to allow the building department, like other communities, to enforce the issue to preserve housing stock and the city’s image, originally considered limiting the number of garage sales that could be held consecutively by residents. But Langshaw was unable to garner support last year with some council members concerned about over legislating and the difficulty in enforcement.

Believing the ordinance to be salvageable, Langshaw and Council President Larry Antoskiewicz made modifications based on concerns of colleagues and reintroduced it last month.

Both stressed this is not aimed at the occasional garage sale but rather habitual offenders who have a running sale 24/7.

Their latest draft proposed a 50-feet setback from the road, but Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell and Ward 2 Councilman Gary Petrusky both felt it was still too restricting, especially for those with smaller frontages.

“On State or Ridge roads they have 300 feet driveways, so 50 feet is nothing. But for others, there might only be 50 feet from the curb to the garage door,” Petrusky said.

The footage was reduced to 35 feet and passed unanimously. Nickell called it a “workable solution.”

“I wanted to respect people’s right to have yard and garage sales. I did not want to put arbitrary burdens on folks who use common sense and make the street setback too far or restrict sales outright,” he said, after the meeting.

Antoskiewicz and Langshaw said they hope the ordinance helps curb the problem of perpetual sales without requiring permits or limiting the number.

“Talking through this, we thought if we give people the opportunity to put items out at the same time as garage sales, Thursday morning through Sunday night, this gives the building department an easy way to regulate the issue. If items are out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we know they are in violation,” Antoskiewicz said. “This stems from the problem of those who put items out and leave them there. Now, they will have to pick these items up.”

“No one wants to see piles of junk, bird cages, car parts and things scavenged out of the trash as they drive through our city,” Langshaw said. “ … we now can address this issue and have some basic regulations like our neighboring cities do.”

Anyone cited would face a minor misdemeanor handled in Mayor’s Court.

Both Mayor Bob Stefanik and Law Director Tom Kelly stressed this will be complaint driven only.

“They are going to use a lot of common sense in the building department. It will be complaint driven, they’re not going to go out and enforce this every day. But if someone calls and says a neighbor is doing this every day, then they’re going to go out there,” Stefanik said. “This is about trying to make yards look presentable and clean.”

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