The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has rejected a bylaw that was approved by Bourne’s Annual Town Meeting in May.
The bylaw was designed to regulate door-to-door sales activity in Bourne.
In a letter to the town announcing its decision, the AG’s office declared that the bylaw, as drafted, “is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth.”
Article 20 called for deleting the town’s current Hawkers and Peddlers bylaw in its entirety and substituting in its place a new bylaw. The article was drafted by Bourne Police Lieutenant Brandon M. Esip.
Lt. Esip said the bylaw’s purpose was a way “to regulate hawkers, peddlers, and door-to-door sales activities so that residents can verify the identity of those that are legitimately conducting business.”
As drafted, the bylaw also provided residents who do not want to be interrupted by those types of salespeople “a mechanism to avoid such encounters.”
The AG’s office took exception to the bylaw’s lack of a time limit within which the Bourne Board of Selectmen have to rule on whether or not to allow the proposed solicitation. The bylaw also does not establish any standards or criteria to guide the selectmen in making a decision on granting a door-to-door sales permit.
The lack of both criteria and a time frame for approval, the AG’s office said, make the bylaw “facially unconstitutional.”
“We are happy to work with the Town to review the proposed amendment text if the Town wishes to re-visit this topic at a future Town Meeting,” the attorney general said.
Lt. Esip said the issues with the proposed bylaw that were raised by the AG’s office had to do with wording that is not contained in the current bylaw. He said that revising the wording “seems to be a basic procedural thing.”
He added that it would be up to the town bylaw committee whether or not to present a revised version of the measure to residents at a future Town Meeting. He suggested that it would not a problem to incorporate the AG’s suggestions to come up with an acceptable bylaw.
“It’s not a deal breaker,” he said.