FLINT TWP. — For the first time since 2015, volunteers for Old Newsboys (ONB) can legally return to some street corners on Friday, December 8, to sell special newspapers and accept donations from drivers in vehicles.
A township Traffic Safety Ordinance, in effect since March 2015 banned all such street solicitation in Flint Township. It impacted both panhandlers and charitable groups including ONB which has collected donations on public streets for nearly 100 years.
The township ordinance was based on a state law- the Uniform Traffic Code – which “prohibits a person in the improved portion of a roadway from soliciting contributions in support of a civic or charitable organization from the occupant of any vehicle.”
But in August of this year, the passage of a new state law –PA 112 of 2017 — amended the Michigan Traffic Code law,
The amended law does include several conditions including one that gives local government units some say on regulating ONB collections.
For that reason, some of the eight soliciting locations initially requested by ONBs permit application were deemed unsafe by a committee that included the township supervisor and clerk, the police chief and other police personnel.
That led to some back and forth negotiating before the following five street corners were approved for the 2017 ONB Newspapers Sale Day:
Flushing Road and Ballenger Hwy.
Torrey and Maple roads
Hemphill and Van Slyke roads
Fenton and Hemphill roads
Fenton and Maple roads
As it has in the past two years, ONB volunteers also will be accepting donations at off-road sites including parking lots of private businesses along Miller, Corunna and Linden Roads.
Some of the intersections deemed unsafe by township officials included Miller Road at I-75, Bristol Road at Van Slyke and Miller Road and Lennon and Dye roads.
Other legal conditions for soliciting on street corners include that the organization has liability insurance; that collectors be at least 18 years old and wear high visibility clothing in compliance with safety equipment standards; that the collections take place at intersection with traffic lights or stop signs and be conducted only during the daytime. Also, collections cannot take place in a work zone and local government units still have some say on regulating those collections.
All of ONB’s application paperwork was in order, said Clerk Kathy Funk.
The township board approved collection hours for the sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.