The Danvers Town Meeting shot down an article to create a by-law that would allow the police department to conduct fingerprint checks on individuals applying for vendor and transportation licenses at its annual meeting Monday night.
The by-law would have required persons applying for licenses for hawking and peddling, managing of alcoholic beverages, owning or operating public conveyances, dealing of second-hand articles, pawn dealing, hackney driving, and ice cream truck vending, to pay $100 annually to keep fingerprints on file for application of such licenses.
No action was taken on the matter, and it will be returned to the Board of Selectman for further consideration. The board strongly opposed it in its current form.
Aside from feeling that the fingerprinting and fee will be levied undeservedly against small-business entrepreneurs and honest business people, the Board of Selectmen took issue with the wording of the article, arguing that it provides no margin for exemptions.
"I'd like to see more specifics in this by-law of who and when they should be fingerprinted," said Board Chairman William Clark. "So I would urge that we defeat this and send it back for more study."
Selectman Keith Lucy simply could not see the article having its intended effect.
"The article, while it may seem well intended, I don't think it makes anyone safer," Lucy said. "Dishonest folks that go door-to-door, posing as door-to-door salesmen, will continue to do so."
Ralph Swift, a livery driver, argued against the necessity of the action, as people in his line of work are already fingerprinted by Massport, the Department of Transportation and Homeland Security.
Other communities in Massachusetts are also looking at the legislation, and Peter Lovell worries that if nearby towns adopt it, troublesome people will gravitate toward the towns that have not.
"I think it's our obligation to protect the residents of this town...and support the finance committee recommendation," Lovell said.
Other issues raised included how the legislation would affect the Danvers Family Festival, which always attracts a slew of outside vendors, and what kind of fines or penalties would be levied against those found to be operating any of the listed services in town without a license.
According to Town Manager Wayne Marquis, the article will most likely not receive any discussion until the fall.The meeting should be the last assembly at Holten Richmond Middle School before relocating to the newly renovated auditorium at the High School.