Lexington council delays ordinance that would set rules on distributing unsolicited circulars

The Urban County Council decided to delay for six months an ordinance that would set rules for the delivery of unsolicited advertising circulars or flyers.

The council voted 12-3 during a council work session to put the issue back into committee after the Lexington Herald-Leader requested a six-month delay so it could improve delivery of Community News, a publication delivered to non-subscribers.

In a letter to council members, lawyers for the Herald-Leader also questioned whether the ordinance violated the newspaper's First Amendment rights. The city's lawyers believe that the proposed ordinance — because it would restrict placement and not content — did not violate free-speech rights.

The proposed ordinance would allow delivery to porches, front doors or mailboxes, but not in driveways, on sidewalks or in yards.

The proposed ordinance was prompted by complaints about the weekly Community News, which residents say is often left on driveways, sidewalks and other areas. Council members said they were concerned about littering and public safety.

"There is a misconception by some on the Council that the Community News is solely advertising," Herald-Leader President and Publisher Rufus Friday wrote in a letter to the council. "It is a newspaper with advertising supplements that benefits local consumers and businesses."

Council member Peggy Henson, who sponsored the proposed ordinance, asked that the council delay the ordinance for six months to give the newspaper time to improve delivery.

Henson said if the city did not see improvements in six months, the council would go ahead and implement the ordinance.

Other council members opposed delaying the implementation of the ordinance. Councilwoman Shevawn Akers said constituents complain frequently about delivery.

"We are here to represent our constituents," said Akers. "This is one of the number one complaints I get."

Councilmembers Akers, Jennifer Scutchfield and Amanda Bledsoe voted against delaying the implementation of the ordinance.

The council's Planning and Public Works Committee had voted 9-1 to approve the ordinance Aug. 13.