Skip to comments.Town Gives Teen's Worm Biz The Hook
Posted on 08/12/2006 2:56:52 PM PDT by Leisler
CROMWELL -- Local worm salesmen, beware. As 13-year-old Joe Cadieux learned recently, Cromwell can be a hostile environment for those looking to break into night crawler vending - particularly if they advertise with a yard sign.
A worm business that Joe has operated since he was 10 was shut down two weeks ago when Cromwell's planning and zoning commission issued a cease-and-desist order because the teenager's sign violated local zoning regulations
It's ridiculous," said the middle school student, who made $5 to $10 a month selling worms collected from his front yard, where they are plentiful after spring rainstorms. Most of the worms he sold went to local fishermen, though Joe said one repeat customer dissected the worms with his Boy Scout troop. He kept the worms in a basement drawer filled with bedding, and sold them in small blue containers.
"It's not really like I'm doing anything wrong," he said.
But the town's planning commission sees it differently. The sign Joe stuck in his front yard on Washington Road to advertise his business, commission members said, violated local regulations on home businesses. Joe's stepfather, August Reil III, described the sign as a placard about 18-by-18-inches, that read "Nite Crawlers" and listed Joe's phone number.
"What kind of town am I living in where they're going to put the kibosh on a 13-year-old's worm business?" Reil said. "It was just to teach him the values of working and getting paid for it."
Commission member Al Diaz said he mentioned the sign during a discussion of illegal business signs in town. He said he told Cromwell's zoning enforcement officer to deal with the problematic worm sign, which he said could hurt the residential character of the Washington Road area. Diaz had seen the sign for years while driving through the area, he said.
"In a residential zone, if you want to put up a business and work out of your home you really need a special permit," Diaz said. "You come before the commission and state your case ...and then a decision is made. Chiropractors do that, lawyers do that, doctors do that, and then you're allowed to put up a sign."
But is a night crawler business - whose 13-year-old operator couldn't even buy a full tank of gas for the family car with his summer earnings - like a doctor's office, or is it just a creepy-crawly version of selling lemonade?
Town Planner Craig Minor said town regulations are vague on businesses such as lemonade and farm stands. In his opinion, the stands are allowed because they are considered customary use of property - just like a backyard barbecue, which doesn't require an assembly permit, or a doghouse that doesn't need special approval.
But the zoning regulations, he acknowledged, do not explicitly allow Joe's night crawler placard.
While Diaz stood behind his decision Thursday, other town officials say the commission exceeded common sense in issuing the cease-and-desist order.
Just let the boy have his night crawler stand, said First Selectman Paul Beaulieu. Reason, he said, should have stepped in when the regulations were vague.
"There's the letter of the law, but there's also common sense," he said. "This was over the top. Kids selling night crawlers and lemonade are part and parcel of life in small-town Connecticut."
Minor said the affected worm salesman can appeal the order to the zoning board of appeals, but Reil said the $130 fee to appeal is prohibitive for the night crawler business - Joe would have to sell over 500 worms just to break even.
These towns need to have flying SWAT teams for lemonade stands, paper routes on bicycles, illegal fished golf ball sales at public courses. People will start selling tomatoes, flowers, even eggs.
If they could they would forbid garage sales, or find a way to tax them.
These people are idiots.
Man, I would love to hear Maggie Thatchers opinion of this : )
Government. Not Necessary but it is evil.
The beautiful spirit of hard work and entrepreneurship crushed under the iron boot of mindless government regulation. Oh, Connecticut, ye seat of unthinking bureaucracy.
Well in the community that I used to live in you had to have a permit to have a garage sale, and the dirty, lousy local dept of revenue jerk would show up and make sure that you reported the income and paid tax on it.
Solution : Fire Diaz!!
I hope the "planning and zoning board" fascists all find their cars filled with nightcrawlers from the floor to the roof. When I was that age I probably would have burned their houses down.
Does not the blame lie with those who voted for the politicians who enacted the rules in the first place?
How can even a government flunkie think garage sale money is "income"? People are re-selling items they have already purchased, at a fraction of the cost of the original purchase price. The INCOME you used to originally purchase the item was already taxed.
If you purchase a dress for $90, you've already paid income tax on that $90. You sell the dress at a garage sale for $20 and pay income tax on the $20. That is double taxation. Only if you sold the $90 dress for $140, then the $50 profit would be subject to tax.
Remember, there are many well meaning people who think 'principled' means 'turn your brain off at the door.' :-)
To protect and serve
Liberals can't stand a successful business. Walmart, big oil, night crawlers.
They take over the town government, the schools. Pizza parlors turn into Starbucks and dry cleaners. They have idle wives who can go to town meetings and vote, while the working class is too busy (working) to be able to pay attention.
I would start naming towns here in MA, but I wouldn't want to offend the oversensitive...
It is insane. A former neighbor in San Antonio was fined $200 for not having a permit for a garage sale.
Vote the bastards out of office.
No efing way...are you kidding?
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