Council OKs Pushcart Vendor Ordinance

The city of Dexter is going to allow two pushcart vendors to sell food at one of three spots downtown.

The city council voted 4-3 to approve the Mobile Vending Ordinance and Policy. The new rules allow up to two people to apply for a license. The dissenters supported the single vendor option, but drew the line at two.

The issue came up after a person asked the city last spring if they could operate a mobile vending unit. The city granted permission, but the person never acted on it. To regulate the practice and protect other brick-and-mortar eateries, the council directed staff to develop language for a new ordinance.

The city convened a public hearing Dec. 14, but questions about unclear language delayed a decision.

The new ordinance limits vendors to only use grills or other cooking facilities that are included as a part of the original pushcart manufacturing. Other types of mobile vending are prohibited except as part of special events, a memo from City Manager Courtney Nicholls to the council states.

Mobile vending units such as ice cream trucks are not subject to regulation under the ordinance.

City Attorney Steve Estey told Nicholls the availability of only one license could create a “monopoly” on the license if the vendor consistently renewed it for one year. At the Dec. 14 meeting council discussed retaining the language allowing one license per year in the policy, with a willingness to consider increasing the number of permits allowed depending on future need or the success of the program.

Mayor Shawn Keough brought up the idea of allowing two licenses and said he would be willing to support that notion.

Council member Zach Michels who was not on council when the discussions on the matter began, was curious why the policy banned non-food vendors. His wife has an online hosiery store and said it’s hard for her to get noticed.

“What are we afraid of, or is this our first venture into it and we want to take it slow” Michels said. “I do think we need more than one of these. Maybe one for each site or at least two.”

The original intent was the city wanted to have language that ensured food safety according to county standards, Nicholls said. There was no way to do that in the original ordinance, she said.

The new policy carries the following nonrefundable fees:

  • Less than one year – $250
  • Less than six months – $125
  • Less than three months – $75
  • Less than 24 hours – $15

The vendors will be limited to the following sites:

  • The grassy triangular piece of public property immediately in front of 8060 Main St., between the businesses and Main Street.
  • The piece of public property adjacent to 3203 Broad St., next to the free-standing
  • The public alleyway adjacent to 8101 Main and 3150 Broad Streets.

The new policy only impacts the city’s hawkers and peddlers ordinance. Pushcarts can’t be left unattended for more than 15 minutes. Public property can’t be altered and permanent fixtures of any kind can’t be installed nor secured or affixed to any public structure on public property.

The new policy also prohibits food trucks and the vending, selling, serving, displaying or offering for sale of products other than food from a pushcart is prohibited on public property.

Michels asked if council members Ray Tell and Jim Carson would consent to a friendly amendment to their motion to allow two vendors, but Carson refused. As a result, Michels offered an amendment to that effect, and it was seconded by Julie Knight.

“My concern is one person will just sit on it,” Michels said.

The proposing and alteration of the amendments piqued the interest of Keough.

“We don’t do this a lot, but it’s fun,” Keough said.

The Council voted 4-3 to allow the amendment with Carson, Donna Fisher and James Smith opposed. The same council members voted the same on the amended motion.

Up to two pushcart vendors can sell food downtown after the Dexter City Council approved a new ordinance. File photo
Up to two pushcart vendors can sell food downtown after the Dexter City Council approved a new ordinance. File photo

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