Town Fines Girl Scout $400

April 29, 2024

In Pinedale, Wyoming, a seemingly simple activity of selling Girl Scout cookies turned into a legal tangle for Erica Fairbanks McCarroll and her daughter, 13-year-old Emma. The mother-daughter duo set up a cookie stand in the driveway of Erica’s parents’ home on Main Street, aiming to contribute to Emma’s Girl Scout fundraising goals.

The trouble began on March 13 when a woman, driving the town’s animal control vehicle but not initially identifying herself as a code enforcement officer, approached them. She instructed Erica and Emma not to block the sidewalk with their stand. Complying with the request, they moved their setup and continued their sales activities for the next two days.

Unexpectedly, the same officer returned and presented them with three parking tickets, totaling $400 in fines. Erica was confused, especially since she believed they had adhered to the officer’s earlier instructions. The fines included $100 for parking on the sidewalk, $150 for unlawful obstruction, and another $150 for failing to keep at least five feet of unobstructed passage on the sidewalk.

Emma, who has been involved in Girl Scouts since she was six, was disheartened, especially since her goal was to sell 1,200 boxes to earn a $350 credit for summer camp. This experience, according to her statements to the Cowboy State Daily, felt unfairly burdensome.

In subsequent interactions, Erica attempted to clarify that the cookie stand was on her family’s property and should not pose an issue. She recounted an exchange where she had to remind the enforcement officer that the property belonged to her parents, the Fairbanks, countering the claim that the family might object to the stand’s location.

The town of Pinedale later insisted that the code enforcement officer was acting within her official capacity and that Erica was warned multiple times to relocate the stand off the sidewalk before the citations were issued. Despite these warnings, town officials said, the stand remained improperly placed, leading to the fines.

This situation escalated to the point where it was discussed at a town council meeting, although Erica felt the official dismissed their concerns. The code enforcement officer later admitted to having a bad day, which might have influenced her decision-making.

Ultimately, Erica hired a lawyer and managed to get two of the three tickets dismissed, opting to pay the remaining $150 fine rather than face potentially higher costs through a trial.

 

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