LAYTON — Salesmen can legally ring doorbells again in Layton, thanks to a relaxation in the city's residential solicitation ordinance.

However, first they'll have to get a license from the city.

For many years now, Layton has been like a lot of other communities — it has an ordinance that prohibits salesmen going door-to-door.

Steve Garside, assistant Layton city attorney, said during the past few years, some commercial entities have been challenging a ban on door-to-door sales on a federal level.

"The clear trend is that it is contrary to the First Amendment," Garside said.

As a result, Layton is seeking to be pre-emptive and alter its ordinance before it could be challenged in the future — even though there have been no such tests in the Utah region as of yet.

Garside has drafted a new city ordinance regulating salesmen, and the council unanimously approved the new ordinance on Oct. 4. It requires all salesman to be licensed by the city. Layton will be developing a special ID card with a photograph, and salesmen will also have to pass a criminal background check.

The licenses would be good for one year, and the city hopes it can handle each license application in three business days.

Garside said both the old and new ordinances have exemptions for door-to-door political campaigning, religious proselyting and neighborhood school or other nonprofit groups, like school or church children selling pizzas.

He said if any residents don't want door-to-door salesman knocking on their doors, then all they need to do is post a "no solicitation" sign. The new Layton ordinance makes it clear that a commercial salesman is in violation if he knocks on any door with such a sign posted.

"This will be nice that they (salesman) are regulated," Councilwoman Joyce Brown said.

"This is a great thing," Councilman Stephen Handy said.

Councilwoman Kathy Hyde Smith said, "I applaud this." However, she has concerns about the city licensing appearing to almost be an endorsement of the sales people.

Garside said the city issues business licenses and other such permits and the general public knows the city isn't endorsing those businesses. He said it would be a Class B misdemeanor if a door-to-door salesman is found in the city without a license.

The Layton Community Development Department has started working on the new licenses. In the meantime, Garside said the city will not actively enforce its old ordinance.

Alex Jensen, city manager, said Layton will notify residents of the change in its next city newsletter and on the city's Web site.