Dinner guests compete with eats

Eric Lander and his family regularly host "Iron Chef"-style dinner parties at their Cambridge, Mass., home.

SUMMERVILLE — Residents outraged over a proposal to limit yard sales shot it full of holes but didn't totally kill it during a public hearing Thursday.

Members of the town's Planning Commission, which conducted the hearing, listened to objections for almost an hour and then agreed to study the proposed ordinance for another month before sending a recommendation back to the Town Council.

The proposed ordinance would allow garage or yard sales only once a quarter, not allow sales to continue for more than a day, not allow multifamily sales, and only allow used goods from that household to be sold.

Most of the 10 residents who spoke during the hearing did not identify themselves when they spoke, and it was not possible to read many signatures on the register after the meeting.

But here is a sampling of what they said during the hearing.

• "I think we have more important things to do than caring about yard sales. We don't need to waste the taxpayers' money."

• "I raised my daughter and son with things from garage sales. … Whenever people want to save money, they go to a garage sale. … This cannot be stopped. All you all are wasting your time. … You're just killing the fun for people to have a reason to look forward to a Saturday."

• "The more I read about it this, the more it disturbed me. … I would like to know who is going to enforce it."

• "This is just a bad time for this to come out. I know a lot of people are having garage sales to pay the bills. … I would like to know more reasoning behind this."

• "To me these limits just do not make sense. You're trying to hit a fly with a sledgehammer."

Commission Vice Chairman Elaine Segelken said the hearing was one of the most entertaining she had ever attended.

"You have made a lot of valid points," Segelken told the speakers.

Planning and Economic Development Director Charlie Miller said the ordinance was aimed at handling complaints about people who run flea markets out of their yards every weekend, which is a violation of the state's business laws. He said it merely sums up state law and standard language from a planning dictionary.

On the other hand, Miller said, the planning department started drafting the ordinance after officials told Gina Britt, who lives near Azalea Park, she could not hold a three-day yard sale during the Flowertown Festival in the spring and she pointed out that the town doesn't have any rules that prohibit yard sales.

Britt said during the hearing that the ordinance was mainly aimed at her. Miller said it was not.

"This is not aimed at the Britt family," he said. "We admire her tenacity. We would help her if we could."