County considers ordinance to ban unsolicited newspapers and fliers

County considers ordinance to ban unsolicited newspapers and fliers

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council said on Tuesday that it's received calls about unsolicited materials in neighborhoods and has a new plan that could penalize distributors.

Myrtle Beach has a similar ordinance like the one Horry Council is proposing. Carol Merrill lives in the Forest Dunes neighborhood and said it's not just the clutter that bothers them, but the message it sends to those with bad intentions.

"We get a little nervous in the fact that we do live here. We're worried about break-ins. We kind of monitor the house across the street and the house next door." said Merrill. "You know we're constantly going around and picking them up and throwing them in the garbage."

Merrill says she canceled her subscription to The Sun News months ago. However, her neighbors who don't have have subscriptions receive unsolicited materials seemingly at random.

"Things that are like the supplement that come in the paper on Sunday, it's like they get them together, throw them in these bags and just toss them out randomly," Merrill said. "And there's no rhyme or reason to when they're going to be there, so it's not like you're looking for them."

Council members said this isn't just a problem in Myrtle Beach and it doesn't just involve The Sun News. It has escalated across the county in recent years and has become a burden on the taxpayers.

"If a resident makes a complaint and they have done due notice by the newspapers or the other that distribute these things, and they continue to deliver that product to either an abandoned house or a resident, then that due notice has been out in place." said Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

If passed, the county could fine distributors up to $500 per offense. On Tuesday night, Mark Webster, president of The Sun News, told council the ordinance conflicts with the First Amendment in regards to free press.

"Most of the complaints that we filter through about people not wanting our product we mitigate very quickly and we come to a positive resolution with that." said Webster.

Webster and others asked that the ordinance be tabled for the time being so that the parties could come to an agreement without getting the courts involved. WMBF reached out to The Sun News management for comment, but that request was denied.

Steve Roberston, publisher of My Horry News, offered the following statement in regards to the proposed ordinance:

I believe we have policies in place that address delivery issues. Over the past 34 years, we have received very few complaints and when we do get a complaint it is addressed promptly. In fact, most complaints we receive are from people who don't get their News and Shopper on time. I do not think this ordinance is necessary.

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