Palmetto slates public hearing on mobile vendors

jdeleon@bradenton.comMarch 5, 2013 

PALMETTO -- City of Palmetto officials have voted to hold two public hearings to discuss and vote on an ordinance to regulate mobile and temporary vendors, following a reading of the ordinance Monday night.

In a three to one vote The City of Palmetto City Commission voted on the proposed ordinance that seeks to regulate and distinguish between mobile food vendors, temporary vendors and all others. Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant and Commissioner Charles Smith were not present for the vote, but elsewhere on city business.

The proposed public hearings were tentatively pushed back to April 1 and 15 to allow for the Planning and Zoning Board to meet and make suggestions beforehand.

One vendor came out to speak on behalf of mobile food vendors such as herself.

"I'm here to defend our rights," Georgia Drakopoulos said prior to the commission meeting.

Drakopoulos, 60, owns her own hot dog push cart business and works two to three days week, health permitting.

"I think street vendors bring warmth to a city," Drakopoulos said.

The Chicago native, a lifelong visitor before becoming a resident, believes there should be regulation and limitations to mobile vendors but feels those long time vendors such as herself should be grand fathered in.

"We should know who comes in our town," Drakopoulos said.

In a workshop earlier Monday afternoon, city commission members and staff went back and forth discussing specifics of the new ordinance particularly focusing on the daily vendors as they try to fine tune the law's language and specifics.

The ordinance was "an attempt to address the issues that have been raised," City Attorney Mark Barnebey said.

Barnebey who has drafted the ordinance explained how it would break down and distinguish the vendors into three categories.

Daily vendors are not required to get a permit of any kind but do have to remove their vehicles and goods every night

Seasonal vendors are not required to close shop every night but are required

to acquire temporary use permits.

All others would be considered permanent businesses and need to get a site plan approval.

"I think we are good with the main issue this ordinance was created for, the permanent vendors or as they are referred to here "other vendors," Vice Mayor Tambra Varnadore.

A source of conflict Monday however was on how to deal with daily vendors.

"You have these rules for the daily vendors," Varnadore said. "How are they communicated to them."

The vice-mayor suggested some sort of registration process but the commission could not come to a consensus.

"Registering these folks will be impossible," Community Redevelopment Agency Board director Jeff Burton said.

Burton suggested presenting those who violate any of the ordinance's stipulations for a daily vendor with a copy of the law and a reasonable amount of time to comply. If the vendor does not, then they be issued a non-moving citation that would ensure payment by attaching to the individual's driver's license.

Another point debated was how to classify events such as RibFest that do fit any of the categories.

In other business, following the reading of a proposed ordinance to extend the moratorium on internet and sweepstakes gaming café permits, with no discussion or public comment, the commission voted to hold a public hearing to vote on the matter 7 p.m. March 18.

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