PERU – Peru residents are now required to buy a $5 permit to hold a yard sale after the Peru City Council Monday approved the new fee.
City code limits residents to two rummage sales per calendar year, which are not to last longer than seven days per sale.
Dennis See, who heads the city’s zoning and code enforcement, said that ordinance was nearly impossible to enforce, since residents were not required to have any documentation showing when a rummage sale started, or how often they were holding sales.
“With no checks or balances, there was no way to know when it started or stopped,” he said in an interview Thursday.
That became an especially big problem last year, See said, when a handful of residents started holding sales for months at a time on their front lawns.
“Pretty soon, the property looked like a junk yard,” he said.
By requiring a permit to hold a rummage sale, See said, the city can keep track of how long and how many times a year residents are holding a sale.
But District 1 Councilman Gabe Greer said the ordinance was putting an unnecessary burden on people who want to hold a sale.
“I understand it would help enforce the ordinance, but I don’t think we should add a fee and a process to what most people take for granted they can do just for the sake of making an ordinance easier to enforce,” he said.
District 4 Councilwoman Cheryl Lee also pushed back against the ordinance, saying it was unfair to force law-abiding residents to pay for a permit just because a handful of people were abusing city code.
“There are people who take advantage, but I feel like we shouldn’t make everyone pay for the few people who break it,” she said. “Why add a fee when we can just fine those who carry it on too long?”
See said Thursday the goal of the ordinance wasn’t to punish people for holding a yard sale, but allow the city to go after those who are blatantly violating city code.
“We’re not on a witch hunt here,” he said. “We’re not trying to slap everybody with this … We’re hoping to deter the real abusers now that we have the leverage to make them stop.”
See said to help offset the new fee, he approached the Miami County Chamber of Commerce about a hosting city-wide garage sales in which residents could participate for free.
Sandy Chittum, president of the chamber of commerce, said the city now plans on holding a city-wide garage sale the second weekend of the month from May through August.
She said residents can register for free by calling the chamber, which will advertise their sale and give them a sign to put on their lawns.
Residents who live outside city limits can pay $10 to participate and set up outside Peru Mercantile on 159 S. Broadway.
“I know some people might be upset about the fee, but this can help calm the waters a little bit,” she said.