GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 11, 2012

Peddlers may have to trade fingerprints for license to sell in Rockport

ROCKPORT — A proposal that would require more thorough backgrounds checks for certain types of vendors, such as door-to-door salesmen or peddlers, may soon be considered by local voters.

The proposal has already passed a thorough review by both the town counsel, Koppleman and Paige, and the Government Bylaw Committee.

The proposal received full support of the bylaw committee when it met Monday night, said co-chairman Peter Goodwin.

Rockport’s bylaw is similar to one passed by the town of Norton earlier this year. The Norton bylaw states that its selectmen, in cooperation with the police chief, will make recommendations to a licensing authority about issuing license for alcoholic beverage license holders, door-to-door salesmen, peddlers, hawkers, pawn brokers and solicitors applying for a license.

Background checks, in addition to fingerprinting, would be done through the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Goodwin said he received legal advice about Rockport’s proposed bylaw from Town Administrator Linda Sanders, who contacted Lauren Goldberg of Koppleman and Paige, who also represents Norton.

In her letter to Sanders, Goldberg outlined her professional opinion for selectmen: “Our thinking was that where the board is likely the licensing authority for some or all of the licenses that may be issued, and where some of the matters involve big-picture policy decisions, rather than just procedural issues, it makes sense for the board to adopt the regulations,” she wrote.

The legislation is proposed by police Chief John McCarthy, who said the Monday night meeting was beneficial to the bylaw construction process.

“Nothing was dramatically changed between the original proposal and what was talked about last night,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “It seemed the committee was happy with the proposed bylaw changes.”

Goodwin said some committee members brought up a few civil rights questions and ethics issues.

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