To everything there is a season -- a time to sell Christmas trees and a time to sell snowballs.
M. Neal Jacobs and Madaleine Rubin-Knoll believe it will be Christmas before the Annapolis government gives them permission to operate a snowball stand in the city's downtown historic district.
Last night, they went before the City Council and pleaded for permission to operate their stand. They said they are even willing to give the snowballs away and ask for donations. They said they wanted the right to appeal immediately to the Board of Appeals.
"We want relief," Mr. Jacobs told the council. "If you keep on, it will be Christmastime. Who wants snowballs in the Christmas season? There's a time for Christmas trees and a time for snowballs."
But City Attorney Paul Goetzke turned a cold shoulder to their request. He told the petitioners that they first would have to file an application for a peddler's license, which likely would be denied. Once the petition is denied, they may take their case to the Board of Appeals.
"You have to get to first base before you can get to third," he told them.
Mr. Jacobs, a Bowie pharmacist, and Ms. Rubin-Knoll, an Annapolis day care provider, tried to set up their snowball stand on Francis Street during the Memorial Day weekend.
They sold snowballs for a few days before police forced them to shut down, citing city laws that prohibit sidewalk vendors in the historic district.
Then the cold war began.
The couple wrote to Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and the city attorney, asking for permission to sell snowballs. Failing in that, they offered to give them away and ask customers for donations. They even promised to give some of the proceeds to charity.
Mr. Goetzke told them they still could not operate their stand.
In pleading to the council, Mr. Jacobs noted that the city allows sidewalk vendors to sell Christmas trees, garlands and Christmas cards in the historic district.
"Is there something different about snowballs than selling Christmas trees?" he asked.
Mr. Jacobs argued that he should not be required to apply for a peddler's license because he won't be selling anything. He also said it was unfair to require him to apply for a license when he already has been told he will not get it.
The council advised Mr. Jacobs to go through the process so he can take his case to the Board of Appeals.
"Go file your application tomorrow. I can't stop you," Mayor Hopkins said in one heated exchange.
"There's a procedure to follow. You have no choice," Alderman Wayne Turner, a Ward 6 Republican, told Mr. Jacobs icily.