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posted: 2/18/2014 5:30 AM

Hoffman Estates loosens rules on garage sales

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Hoffman Estates trustees on Monday approved some looser restrictions for garage sales that still limit the ability of anyone to regularly run a retail business out of a home.

The changes to the code are based on what were felt to be reasonable requests for exceptions, but whose individual reviews have been consuming an undue share of staff time, officials said.

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Until now, the basic rules for garage sales have been to allow no more than three per house in a calendar year; no more than three consecutive days for each sale; hours limited from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and a minimum of 30 days between sales.

The intention of the rules has been to maintain the residential character of neighborhoods and cut down on outside traffic and parking.

But the impact of bad weather and a desire to sell items within a short period before a home sale has caused the village staff to regularly grant exceptions.

The three changes made by Monday's vote are to allow four-day sales instead of three, eliminate the 30-day wait between sales, and extend hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The existing prohibition against more than three sales in a calendar year is not being changed. The staff felt that was the most important rule in guarding against the possibility of illegal retail businesses being operated out of homes.

The village issued 484 permits for garage sales in 2012 and 557 in 2013. During the peak months from April to October, an average of four permits were processed daily requiring about five to 10 minutes for each.

Based on these figures, about 70 staff hours were required for permit processing in 2013, officials said. But that time was increased by having to explain the rules and review common requests for exceptions. Though a permit is free, there's a $10 penalty for a sale without one.

When garage sales are occurring, the village lists the times and locations of those with a permit on its website.

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