Instead of holding their annual garage sale, the residents of Fairview Terrace in West New York may have to find another way to bring a festive atmosphere to their block, as the Town Clerk's office may discourage the event.
A group of up to eight families had initially gotten together for the past three years to hold their annual sale in September.
"It started with just a couple of families," said resident Robin Vetere. "But every year more families join us."
A new ordinance introduced at last month's Board of Commissioners meeting will limit the number of garage sales an individual is allowed to have at his or her residence. However, since the new ordinance is not up for a final vote until Sept. 19, Vetere said that the city has told her they may enforce other ordinances that have not been implemented in the past regarding the block sales.
At the Board of Commissioners meeting held last month, West New York Mayor Albio Sires said that the ordinance was being introduced to deter residents from holding a garage sale every week. "There are some people who are making a business out of having garage sales," said Sires, adding that some have even set up barbecues and hot dog stands.
The residents of Fairview Terrace are trying to plan their sidewalk sale for Oct. 6, which is after the final vote on the garage sale ordinance.
Whose sidewalk is it, anyway?
One representative from the Town Clerk's office said that as long as the residents are selling their own merchandise instead of new goods, there is no existing ordinance that should discourage them from holding garage sales. But a representative from the Codes and Building Department raised another question: Can the garage sale take place on the sidewalk?
According to the representative, it can't. A garage sale can only take place within the resident's property line, which restricts it to the driveway or the backyard of a home.
"It is not like we are blocking the streets," said Vetere, who said that in the past, they set up one row of tables on the sidewalk and planned to set them up in the same fashion this year. "If we don't own the sidewalks, then is the town going to start repairing them?"
According to Tax Assessor Sal Bonaccorsi, property owners in West New York do not pay taxes on the sidewalks.
"[The property owners] do not own the sidewalk, but they are responsible to maintain it," said Bonaccorsi.
According to Bonaccorsi, most property lines in West New York are drawn at the base of the porch. However in some cases, where the property has a front yard, part of the sidewalk may be within the property line. In those cases the entire sidewalk is not included.
Vetere further argued that many houses in West New York do not have access to their backyards without going through their homes.
"Most people can hardly get to their backyard without going through their house," said Vetere.
Another resident of Fairview Terrace, Pablo Martin, said he does not have access to his backyard from the front of his house or a garage. "[Having a garage sale] is just as American as the flag," said Martin. "They are making it very difficult to have one."
Caroline Chiocco, another resident who takes part in the block sale, said that having a garage sale in your backyard doesn't work.
"I had a garage sale in my backyard once. It was a complete flop," said Chiocco.
Can we advertise?
In past years, the residents have placed advertisements in newspapers, passed out fliers door to door and posted signs to spread the word about a garage sale.
"Advertising is key," said Vetere, whose block only runs through 54th to 51st streets one block up from Boulevard East. "Who comes down this block except residents."
After meeting with the Town Clerk, Vetere said that she was told she could no longer advertise for her garage sales.
However, Ordinance No. 1820 passed in 1990, the last ordinance found that dealt with general advertising within the town, only prohibits fliers and other advertisement materials from being placed on vehicles.