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Babylon Town Board will take another look at law to regulate yard sales

A man at an estate sale looks at

A man at an estate sale looks at items in the yard of a West Babylon home on Thursday, June 24, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The Babylon Town Board is taking another look at a proposed law that would regulate garage sales after hearing from residents who worry that the law is too restrictive.

Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed law brought out only a handful of people but those few said they felt the legislation is unfair. The proposed law would, among other regulations, limit garage sales to no more than two consecutive days. The sales would have to take place on weekends and would be limited to the months of April to September with only two sales per residence permitted each year. Residents would have to obtain a permit for about $5 for each sale. Fines for violations would range from $100 to $2,500.

Town officials said the proposed legislation is targeted at those who are actually running a business from their driveway rather than holding an occasional yard sale.

Patty Marshall of Wheatley Heights said she understood "the headache" of residents who hold sales constantly but that the proposed law is too restrictive.

"I just think it's really unfair to the rest of us who just don't fall into this public nuisance category," she said. "For all of us to suffer the consequences of a few scofflaws is just excessive."

Marshall had with her a pocketbook, watch and ring that she said she purchased at various garage sales. She said she held several sales last summer because she was downsizing to a smaller home and she believes in repurposing items, "rather than sending them to the landfill."

Garage sales, she said after the meeting, "are a part of our lifestyle on Long Island and I don't think the town needs to regulate them."

Councilman Tom Donnelly said the law is not intended for people like Marshall and enforcement will be complaint based. "We're not going to have the garage sale police out looking for people," he said. "This is about the folks who are running a business from their yard and getting people upset. It's a simple targeted enforcement tool to ensure a good quality of life."

Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said the town attorney's office would review the proposed legislation and that it will be "tweaked." Among the possible changes, he said, are the number of sales per year and the months they would be permitted.

"We want to make sure the law is addressing the issues that exist and not creating more issues," he said. The board would likely vote on the revised law within the next two months, he said.

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