Ordinance to ban roadside solicitors moves forward in county council

Ordinance to ban roadside solicitors moves forward in county council

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - An ordinance that would make it illegal for solicitors to collect money on Berkeley County roads passed a first reading Monday night. The law was proposed after a Live 5 News investigation into a group of men asking for donations at various intersections around the county.

After a Live 5 News investigation, an ordinance that would prohibit roadside soliciting came before Berkeley County council and unanimously passed a first reading.

"The main issue is that they're darting about cars at intersections," explains council member Kenneth Gunn. "When the traffic light changes, they run from one side to the other side and are stopping cars, and that's just not safe."

Council member Kenneth Gunn proposed the law after the solicitors were tracked down at the intersection of Highway 17a and Interstate 26. When they were confronted, one of the men told Live 5 News he was taking donations for his church. A viewer, who sent us some video from two different locations, was told on one occasion that the men were with New Life Ministries out of Florence, South Carolina. When Live 5 News checked, the website said it was based in Rochester, New York.

"I have nothing against local organizations raising funds, even at intersections if it's properly secured and safe, but it should be a local organization, and I believe it should be controlled by the Sheriff's Office," says Gunn.

Council members say before a law of this kind is passed they must make sure it is fair and legal. They say many genuine charities and organizations exist.

"I don't want to jeopardize a legitimate not-for-profit organization to have a legitimate chance at raising funds. We don't want to get anybody killed out there, and I personally don't want someone from Florida or Oklahoma raising funds and saying that they're local when they're not."

The ordinance must pass two more readings. Gunn says the public will be allowed to weigh in before the final reading.