Some Hall County officials worry that organizations asking for donations on roadsides could not only be a nuisance but a traffic hazard.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners discussed what to do about aggressive road solicitors at Monday’s work session.
Commissioner Billy Powell said he has received a number of complaints from constituents about some organizations, such as the Missionary Church of Disciples of Jesus Christ Inc., that stop the flow of traffic to ask drivers for money.
While the church’s headquarters is in California, there is an affiliated church in Stone Mountain.
Powell said one man complained about the hazard of being approached at a busy intersection.
"He said several times on his way home from work they’re out there, and traffic backs way up," Powell said. "It’s multiple occurrences."
Business license director Susan Rector said, according to state law, collecting money on the side of the road is illegal unless there is a separate local government ordinance allowing it. Currently, Hall County does not issue permits to solicit on roadsides.
However, the state law is hard to enforce, Rector said, because by the time law enforcement responds to a call, people disperse.
"People don’t understand that they need a special license to do that," Rector said.
Rector said calls have been received through commissioners and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
The main areas the solicitors reportedly frequent are the intersection of Jesse Jewell and Limestone parkways and Memorial Park Drive and Old Flowery Branch Road.
"If you’re at a busy intersection, you need to pay attention to traffic. You need to pay attention to what you’re doing, not to a guy standing on the side of the road with a bucket. And particularly if he’s waving that bucket in front of your face in your windshield or tapping on your door trying to get your attention to get you to donate money," Rector said.
The commissioners said that while they want to stop any dangerous or bothersome solicitation, they do not want to prevent other local groups, such as firefighters or Shriners, from conducting sporadic, respectful roadside collections.
"If you deny it for one group, you’ve denied it for everyone," Rector said.
Rector said a good solution could be specifying certain times and areas in which nonprofit organizations may ask for donations on the side of the road.
The commission will discuss further what to do about this issue and might take action at a later date.