In order to avoid legal challenges to its previous guidelines, the Village of Kensington announced it will revise its solicitation laws in September to permit solicitors to approach residents directly at their homes.
Prior to this revision, solicitation was only allowed at businesses or in public spaces within the village. Solicitors can also now work from 5 p.m. to dusk, which the village defines as 30 minutes after sunset, increasing their total operation time. All solicitors will still be required to obtain a license from the village.
Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin wrote in an email addressed to residents that the village will advise local law enforcement to stop enforcing soon-to-be outdated aspects of the current solicitation laws.
“In the interim prior to adopting the changes to the law, we will be advising our police and building inspector that certain aspects of the current law should no longer be enforced,” Lopatkin wrote. “For example, the time frame for soliciting has been expanded from 5pm to dusk (30 minutes after sunset). Solicitors selling goods will also be permitted to sell goods house-to-house to village residents provided they have obtained a license.”
In an interview with the Great Neck Record, Lopatkin said the village changed its rules regarding the practice after being contacted by a corporate attorney to bring them into accord with modern regulations and avoid potential lawsuits down the line.
“We were contacted by an attorney for a commercial environmental pest control company, basically suggesting that our current law is too restrictive and giving us supporting case law where courts have agreed,” Lopatkin said. “We looked at it and concluded that we need to modify the law.”
Legal challenges to harsh laws against peddling goods door to door have popped up in villages across the county. The Village of Floral Park settled a lawsuit in February with Aptive Environmental, a commercial environmental pest-control company that sued the village last August, arguing the door-to-door solicitation ban the village had maintained hurt its business and constituted a violation of its commercial speech rights under the First Amendment.
While Kensington has announced it will lift its ban on solicitation at private residences, similar bans on door-to-door sales still remain on the books in nearby villages like Great Neck and Saddle Rock.
For homeowners who still wish to avoid being accosted by hucksters, the village is allowing residents to put their names and addresses on a “No Knock Registry” that will bar solicitors from approaching those houses, similar to what is done is nearby Thomaston. The village is also designing a “Do Not Knock” decal that can be placed on homes to forewarn solicitors, and will update residents when the decal becomes available.
Village of Kensington residents who want to be placed on the registry can email the village at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the village at 516-482-4409.