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Bradenton may require vendor permits

BRADENTON — The city Wednesday moved closer to establishing a $20 fee for vendors who set up shop in a business parking lot to sell barbecue, T-shirts or any other items.

The council has discussed the problem of vendors popping up along roadways, and asked for a report on the cost to register vendors.

Tim Polk, planning and community development director, said city code allows vendors. They are required to get a business tax receipt, to make sure there is a site plan and permission from the property owner to operate.

But there is no process in place to make sure they are in compliance with zoning and land-use regulations. Polk has suggested issuing an additional vendor’s permit, which would be helpful in keeping track of all those wanting to do business in the city without owning a building.

Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey brought up the issue several months ago when she noticed impromptu flea market-like vendors popping up along 14th Street West and Manatee Avenue West.

Several business owners asked her if these vendors were paying the business tax or sending sales tax to the state, Barnebey said.

City code enforcement officers did a compliance sweep on four consecutive Saturdays and handed out more than 50 warnings or tickets to vendors operating without a permit or the property owner’s permission.

Councilman Gene Gallo voiced concern Wednesday that $20 was not enough to cover the cost to the city to process permits and inspect sites.

But Polk said it would take only 10 minutes of city staff time to issue a permit.

He also suggested the city require a business to be operating on property, but several council members felt that it was not necessary to tie a vendor’s operation to an ongoing business.

Polk also suggested prohibiting all vendors who do cooking on site, but the city attorney said special exception regulations would need to be adopted for events, such as the annual Taste of Manatee held on Bacarrota Boulevard.

Fire Chief Mark Souders said the state regulates those types of vendors and the fire department makes sure they comply with safety requirements.

The council will officially set the rate for a vendor permit at a future meeting.