ELYSBURG — The Ralpho Township Board of Supervisors adopted at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday an amendment to the transient retail merchants ordinance that adds Sundays to the days transient businesses can operate from a fixed position.
Supervisors voted, 3-1, to allow the change at the conclusion of a hearing conducted by solicitor Todd Kerstetter during which the public and board had an opportunity to comment. Voting in favor were supervisors Blaine Madara Jr., Vincent Daubert and Stephen Major. Voting against was supervisor Dan Williams. Supervisor Blaine Madara Sr. was absent.
A transient business is defined as a businesses engaged in peddling, soliciting or taking orders upon any street, alley, sidewalk or public ground or from house-to-house in Ralpho Township. The business is prohibited from engaging in activities on legal holidays or between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The amendment also added language that limits transient business activities to no more than four days during a seven-day period and any transient business that operates for three or more consecutive days shall refrain from activity for the following three days. Exceptions to the state-mandated license fee of $25 will continue to include farmers selling their own produce and minors delivering newspapers.
Prior to the vote, Williams expressed concerns about the amendment and questioned where in the township transient businesses could set up.
“What protects our brick and mortar businesses from (transient businesses) totaling taking over Elysburg for a $25 permit,” Williams said.
Mark Lyash, code enforcement officer, agreed with Williams’ concerns that the ordinance currently allows a transient business to sell anywhere in the township.
Major clarified that the amendment only changes the number of days transient businesses can offer products, not the locations.
Supervisor Madara Jr. commented that the ordinance has been in effect for a number of years, but the township has not experienced any problems.
“All we are changing is the day,” Madara Jr. said. “If this does become a problem, in which the township is overrun with yard sales on every single street, then two months or six months down the road we could look at the ordinance as a whole.”
The amendment, which goes into effect in five days, was welcome news to Tom Waltman, pitmaster of Son of a Butcher Barbecue, who suggested the change at August’s meeting and was in attendance Tuesday.
Waltman operated inside Richard’s Farm Market stand along Route 487, between Elysburg and Knoebels Amusement Resort, but left the building around July once Adams Family Farm occupied the space. He bought a utility shed for the storage of cooking appliances, but then learned the business couldn’t operate on Sundays.
“For me, church and state is suppose to be separate. So, what’s so sacred about Sundays?” he said following Tuesday’s meeting.
Waltman, who has cooked a variety of meats at the road-side stand, said most customers are locals and the feedback has been phenomenal.
The stand has been closed for a month or so, but Waltman said he now intends to re-open for the last weekend of September and continue the business through October and possibly longer, depending on the weather.