Two new resolutions that go into effect April 1 are intended to protect the privacy of Prairie Township residents.
Township trustees approved the resolutions at their March 1 meeting. One establishes a do-not-knock registry in the community and the other prohibits aggressive panhandling in the township.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said both initiatives came about in response to concerns voiced by township residents.
"We had received complaints from several residents about (aggressive panhandling) in some of the parking lots of the shopping centers along West Broad Street, and the sheriff's office has received complaints as well," Hatmaker said.
"We've discussed it with deputies and our attorneys, and found there's not much they can do based on state law, but we did learn we could address it through the township's limited home-rule authority."
The resolution defines aggressive panhandling as "aggressive begging with the intent to intimidate another person into giving money or other property of value in a public place," including "physical contact without the person's consent, violent or threatening gestures, or approaching a vehicle on the street or offering services without permission."
Hatmaker said the penalty for the first violation is $50; that increases to $100 for a second violation and to $250 for three or more violations.
"We're hoping to help people feel a little more safe in these parking lots; sometimes people can be a little intimidating, whether they mean to or not," Hatmaker said.
The second resolution establishes a do-not-knock registry for township residents tired of commercial solicitors trying to make a sale at their door.
While the township does require commercial salespeople to register for a transient vendor's permit, this registry allows residents to decline their visits.
"We do have a requirement in the township that they register for a transient vendor permit; however, a lot of residents have still voiced concerns, or they don't want these calls coming at their door," Hatmaker said.
By registering their street address with the township, residents will be issued a door sticker informing commercial vendors that they're not to call on that home, Hatmaker said.
The first violation will receive a warning; a second violation earns a $100 fine and the revocation of the transient vendor permit; third and subsequent violations also will merit a $250 fine.
Nonprofit organizations, such as the Girl Scouts and church groups, do not (and cannot) fall under such a restriction, Hatmaker said.