BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Bennington select board has postponed a vote on a proposed ordinance that would ban panhandling on public property in the town.

The vote was postponed Monday after three board members were absent and there were revisions to consider. It’s now scheduled for Nov. 11.

The town stepped in after representatives of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and the Better Bennington Corp. raised concerns about “people soliciting funds on the street or in parking lots.”

The Bennington Banner reports the measure prohibits aggressive “soliciting” and bars it from happening within 15 feet of an entrance to a business or automated teller machine, besides other restrictions.

Revised amendments struck language defining “loitering” and the words “or soliciting the sale of goods or services” from the definition of “soliciting.”

Judith Pennock, office manager at Evans’ News on Main Street, said she saw three women visiting town on Columbus Day weekend get back in their car and leave after they were approached by a panhandler.

“We can’t afford to have that happen at all,” she said.

Others said the amendment violates the First Amendment.


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