When it comes to yard sales, how much is too much?

City officials are discussing the topic after residents complained about people holding garage sales week after week.

Tom LaPenna, code compliance official for the city of Dunwoody, said there have been “intermittent” complaints about excessive garage sales, most recently at a Dunwoody City Council meeting.

“We’ve written citations for signage in right of way, but haven’t done anything that pertains to garage sales just yet,” LaPenna said. “We don’t have an ordinance against garage sales.”

City Attorney Brian Anderson said he looked into amending the city’s code to address garage sales, but found it unnecessary.

“We prohibit businesses with customer contact in (residential) zones,” Anderson said.

He said the occasional yard sale would not fall under the current zoning restrictions.

“One time is not a business,” Anderson said. “If you’re holding a garage sale every week that is a business and is prohibited.”

At the City Council’s Aug. 22 meeting, a resident complained that a home on Tilly Mill Road has been the site of repeated sales. But a check of the area on a weekend after the complaint was made public found no sign of the sale.

“The person who started this, having weekly garage sales, was issued a warning and as far as we know he has stopped,” Anderson said.

Other communities also have dealt with issues related to repeated garage sales. Neighboring Sandy Springs has written citations to two residents in the last four years for operating a business without a license.

“We don’t require them to have a permit but when it becomes week in, week out, that’s when we’d have to go out and investigate if it’s something that would require a business license,” said Al Ferrell, manager of code enforcement for Sandy Springs. “In those two instances it was apparent they were actually using it as a business. It was every weekend and they had signs out.”

Bob Lundsten, chief of staff for DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, said the county does not restrict garage sales in residential areas.

“Since DeKalb County is so big, it would be virtually impossible to do anything. There’s 700,000 people,” Lundsten said. “You’d have to have a code enforcement of thousands on Saturdays to stop it. And I’m not sure anybody is upset about people having the occasional garage sale.”

Though code enforcement officers do hear complaints from time to time.

“We don’t have a problem in DeKalb,” Lundsten said. “We have the occasional situation … where somebody is abusing it and code enforcement will go out and see if it’s a traffic problem or a safety problem … and then it becomes a nuisance issue.”

Lanii Thomas, a spokeswoman for the city of Atlanta, said the city’s code enforcement will only step in if garage sales are happening on a regular basis.

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