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8-7-09

SOME MERCHANTS NOT PLEASED
Hot dog stand given thumbs up

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The last issue on the agenda for Parkville became a contentious topic on Tuesday.

Parkville's Board of Aldermen approved a temporary permit for a downtown hot dog vendor even though the vendor had not actually submitted an application.

Marc Sportsman, alderman, brought up the idea at the last meeting after being approached by the owner of the trailer to possibly allow the vendor to operate in Parkville.

Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator, explained the vendor's trailer as being a “fully contained facility.” He said the vendor was looking to locate to the private parking lot along East Street on the weekends only to sell hot dogs, chips, and soda.

“We don't clearly allow (that) under our code,” said Ackerson.

Parkville's ordinances do not currently have measures to allow vendor carts or trailers except during festivals.

Sportsman said a temporary use permit would allow the vendor to take advantage of the end of the selling season and allow staff to explore the idea further.

Deborah Butcher, alderman, said she was uncomfortable approving anything without seeing what the trailer looks like since it would be in the Old Town District (OTD) of Parkville.

“We had a business owner take off their vinyl siding,” said Butcher. She said the siding didn't match the requirements of the OTD and she was concerned about approving it without knowing what the trailer looks like.

The OTD has a set of design standards to maintain the look of the downtown area.

“I agree there is a need for that, I just want to be careful,” said Butcher.

Sportsman told the board he thinks they shouldn't be regulating competition.

“It is a slippery slope to dictate competition,” said Sportsman. “If you're a restaurant and can't compete with a hot dog stand, then you have deeper problems. This is a very fine, state of the art hot dog stand. I find it shocking that the merchants find it threatening to compete with a hot dog stand.”

Gerry Richardson, mayor, said he supports the idea of the vendor.

“I personally feel the vendor would bring a positive energy to downtown,” said Richardson. “I'd prefer it be a hand cart, but we don't have a choice.”

Jim Brooks, alderman, said it was a question of whether the vendor fits the feel of downtown.

Nan McManus, alderman, also said she thinks the vendors should fit the same OTD guidelines.

Ackerson said that some shopping areas have requirements about signage and deny applications if signs are too large. He also said the vendors could be in other areas of Parkville as well.

“I want to make sure we are doing this because it is in the best interest of downtown, not because of one individual who wants to make money,” said Butcher.
Richardson said he did not recommend taking a vote on the matter during the meeting, but he wanted to give staff some direction for research before the next meeting.

Marvin Ferguson, alderman, said the board needs to “get off the pot and go one way or the other.” He then made a motion to approve the temporary special use permit for the vendor to operate.

The motion then passed with a vote of 5-3. Aldermen McManus, Butcher, and Brooks voted against the motion.

A motion was then made by Brooks to amend the previous vote to make sure the vendor complies with OTD requirements in downtown.

Richardson asked the city clerk to read the motion made to make sure everyone understood the motion.
City Clerk Claudia Wilhite read the motion and told the board that since there was no application from the vendor she did not have the name of the business to put in the motion and would have to include that later.

The motion to amend the previous motion passed with a vote of 6-2 with Aldermen Ferguson and Sportsman voting against.

After the meeting Tom Hutsler, business owner, said the aldermen were trying to turn Parkville into a Westport or the Power and Light District. He said that after hot dogs the next step would be gyros and then pizza for vendors.

Hutsler said he thought it would be more appropriate to have had meetings with the Main Street Association about the issues.
“The vendor (competes) with local businesses like Tommy T's and Iron Horse,” said Hutsler. Hutsler owns Tommy T's.

Hutsler said the Main Street Association had been having discussions about allowing musicians and artists to be vendors in downtown.