A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: zoning ordinance

Thin Mints v. The City

TimetoBuy

By Halina Schiffman-Shilo and Ashley Davidson

The days of child-run lemonade and cookie stands may soon be over.

In the spring of 2005, two enterprising sisters, ten-year old Caitlin and eight-year-old Abigail Mills of Hazelwood, Missouri sold Girl Scout Cookies for a few hours each evening after school from the stand they set up in their drive-way. And this little stand was mighty successful. In 2011, the girls sold around 1,700 boxes, a feat that would make any parent or troop leader proud.

This tradition continued until one year ago when their mother, Carolyn Mills, found an unpleasant surprise waiting for her with the mail: a notice from the City of Hazelwood Code Enforcement, a zoning board, stating that the Girl Scout Cookie stand violated a home occupations Code, and that her family was prohibited from involvement in this kind of quasi-criminal activity.

Not wanting to break the law — they are Scouts, after all — Ms. Mills and her daughters filed for a license to sell their cookies. The city, citing health and safety concerns, denied their application.

And so Ms. Mills is suing. According to the complaint filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Missouri, the Mills family claims that the city has no evidence of the cookie stand causing any considerable public health, safety, or welfare hazards. The Mills family also claims that the Code is unconstitutional, and deprives them of their liberty and their right to use personal private property as they see fit.

The Mills family is not seeking money from the city; they just want the right to sell their cookies. Several media outlets (see here and here) have reported on this cookie-selling case, but they haven’t weighed in on the lawsuit’s merits. LASIS investigates.   (more…)

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