Palmetto regulates mobile food vendors

jtate@bradenton.comJune 18, 2013 

PALMETTO -- The Palmetto City Commission narrowly passed a mobile food vendor ordinance Monday to regulate where they can set up.

The city will now track all mobile food vendors doing business in the city.

Commissioners Tambra Varnadore and Brian Williams joined Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant in 3-2 vote to pass the ordinance. The mayor spearheaded adoption of the new law after noticing some vendors parked in areas that could obstruct traffic, took up multiple parking spaces permitted to other businesses and left carts in unauthorized places could create be a hazard during hurricane season.

Commissioners Tamara Cornwell and Charles Smith voted against the ordinance.

Smith said the ordinance was vague on requirements to vend. He said it was unacceptable to not have information available before a second reading.

"It's important for me to see beforehand what you're asking of the businesses," said Smith.

There was also opposition from "Who Let the Dogs Out" hot dog vendor Georgia Drakopoulos, who felt the ordinance was not needed.

Not all vendors opposed the new rules.

Suncoast Food Trucks owner Andrew Seeley offered to clear up any questions the city officials had about mobile food vendors.

"We want to work with the city," said Seeley, who was excited the ordinance passed.

John Hattaway, a Palmetto

resident and owner of food truck Chef John's, said he is happy to be regulated.

"With the permits, the city will be able to get good food and food trucks and not roach coaches," said Hattaway.

Food vendors will be required to obtain free special use or temporary use permits depending on where they are stationed and for how long. Vendors can no longer be in the same location more than 120 days.

The ordinance takes effect July 1.

In other business:

• A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 1 on an ordinance to soften the mandatory requirement for the commission to meet twice a month.

• Palmetto commissioners recognized Nathaniel Thomas Miller on becoming an Eagle Scout. Miller attended the meeting with his family and Judge Gilbert Smith, Manatee District chairman of the Boy Scouts of America.

• City officials approved two Community Redevelopment Agency business incentives. One involves business owners posting signs to allow drivers to park in their spaces to allow more parking downtown. The other incentive includes a partnership with owners of the Olympia Theater and "It Works! Global" on property development.

• Palmetto city officials will have an emergency commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to vote on a capital improvement project for a water well to store reclaimed water.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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