Sherman recently updated a city ordinance to cut down on solicitors at 12 of the busiest intersections in the city.
The change makes it illegal for anyone to solicit or distribute handbills in the rights of way or within 1,000 feet of the intersections of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417, U.S. Highway 82 and Texoma Parkway, Loy Lake Road and Taylor Street, Hwy. 82 and Hwy. 75, Texoma Parkway and Taylor Street, Hwy. 75 and Lamar Street, Hwy. 75 and Houston Street, Hwy. 82 and Loy Lake Road, Hwy. 75 and Loy Lake Road, Travis Street and Taylor Street, Hwy. 82 and Travis Street, and Hwy. 75 and Travis Street.
“The city has received several complaints of people in the roadway impeding traffic and becoming a danger to themselves and the people driving the vehicle,” City Attorney Brandon Shelby said. “We’ve attempted in the past to regulate this through our ordinances restricting solicitation in the roadway itself. But that didn’t seem to curtail any of the activity, so in an effort to protect the pedestrians and the drivers, we’ve identified intersections through town that we feel are the most used and where this activity is the most dangerous.”
The ordinance makes it unlawful to solicit within 1,000 feet of any those intersection at any time unless the solicitor obtained a permit or is a member of an organization that obtained a permit. City Manager Robby Hefton explained city staff has no issue with people passing through the intersections as pedestrians, but people staying within a right of way has proved dangerous.
“These are the intersections that would be highest trafficked and therefore highest probability of injury or things happening,” Hefton said. “I want to be clear that this is really about loitering and people being in the intersection and people being around the intersection for whatever reason.”
Shelby said the newly worded ordinance is modeled after similar ones from cities closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that have dealt with high traffic intersections.
“It’s working for them and we’re hoping it will work for us,” Shelby said. “The police department will be in charge of enforcing it, and I envision they may give some warnings out at first to let people know (about the new ordinance wording).”
The city attorney explained a violation of the ordinance will be a Class C misdemeanor, though he said the change was made more to protect drivers and keep pedestrians safe than to collect fines.
Council member Pam Howeth said she has experienced blocked views on the street from workers with advertising signs near corners.
“Some of us on the staff here are concerned that either the driver will have an accident or could possibly injure the person who is out there waving the sign advertising ‘going out of business’ or reducing in price, etc.,” Howeth said. “We’re trying to make sure that everybody is safe by this. Even though they are not in the street, they are blocking views, so that is what we’re concerned with.”
Council members Shawn Teamann and Willie Steele asked whether there would be any signs added to the intersections being impacted by the ordinance change and Hefton explained the Texas Department of Transportation would have to give permission for such signage.
“We’ll work with TxDOT to do everything that we can,” Hefton said of adding signs to those 12 intersections. “Whether they’ve got a sign ‘going out of business’ or any other signage just hanging out at the intersections for no apparent reason, we just want to convey how important it is to keep these intersections safe for them and for other motorists.”