Hudson -- Solicitors will soon be able to go door to door in the city until 9 p.m., but Hudson officials are looking at other ways to limit strangers knocking on doors, especially after dark.
Ohio Citizen Action in a call to the city solicitor "has threatened to bring a federal court action" against the city of Hudson, citing under the First Amendment violations, if it does not permit door-to-door solicitation until 9 p.m. standard time, according to city officials.
The non-profit group promoting a safer and healthier environment has brought similar lawsuits against other communities and won, according to City Council President David Basil.
"The risk is litigation costs," Basil said. "We don't want to spend city money on litigation."
Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action said the group has been canvassing door to door in Ohio for 35 years from 4 to 9 p.m. with the later hours important because people are home, finished with dinner and ready to talk.
There are many court cases in Ohio and other states that strike down earlier curfews because of the First Amendment, Buchanan said.
"The key is people have the right to say they don't want to talk to you or put up a sign," Buchanan said. "But the right for others is an opportunity to hear the information and get involved."
Currently during standard time no commercial solicitation is allowed before 9 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. None is allowed on Sundays or a State or national holiday. During daylight savings time no commercial solicitation is allowed before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, or at any time on Sundays or a State or national holiday.
During standard time no noncommercial solicitation is allowed before 9 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays or at any time on a State or national holiday. During daylight savings time no noncommercial solicitation is allowed before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays, or at any time on a State or national holiday, according to the city ordinances.
The 7 p.m. time was changed from 9 p.m. in 2008.
Council will propose an amendment Feb. 20, for the first of three readings to restore the 9 p.m. curfew for solicitors for Mondays through Saturdays during standard time from March to November.
Council discussed other options that would not limit the hours for solicitors but would prevent them from knocking on doors.
Other communities have created a list of residents who have requested solicitors not knock on their doors or a "do not knock list," said Council member Hal DeSaussure.
City Manager Anthony Bales said there is a provision for posting "No Solicitors Invited" signs in the city charter.
Some residents support solicitations for certain local organizations, such as the high school band, Basil said.
"We could look at options for community groups like the band," he said.
Council member Alex Kelemen said the city could keep a log of complaints from residents about solicitors knocking on their doors after dark. He said that burglars can use solicitation as a way to determine if someone is home without raising suspicion.