Mobile cart regulation discussed at Middletown public hearing

By Tom Lehman 11:02pm, October 15, 2012 - Updated 10:42am, October 16, 2012
Proposed regulations for mobile cart vendors is discussed by Councilman Chuck Dixon, local residents
Proposed regulation that would impose stricter regulation on mobile cart vendors in Middletown draws comment from local residents during a public hearing.

Middletown Town Council may consider new rules for those applying to operate mobile carts that sell food or other goods says Councilman Chuck Dixon.

"It's just that now it's more formal. It's in writing, it's a formal ordinance and not just a guideline," he says.

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He says the purpose of the ordinance that he proposed is maintaining food and traffic safety standards. If the ordinance passes, it would require those applying to operate a food cart to undergo scrutiny from the planning and zoning commission among several other regulations.

"They have to be properly licensed by the state, they have to have a proper town license, they have their proper health inspections and they also have to have permission from the private property owner," he says.

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Dixon says the town had previously approved a conditional use permit for a barbecue food trailer under circumstances that are similar to the criteria under the proposed ordinance, and it would not have to be revaluated if the plan was approved.

Keith Young operates a Middletown barbecue restaurant and supports the proposal but thinks council should consider more restrictions to help protect local restaurants. He says some mobile food carts bring unfair competition.

"I think that we're going to be right back in the same situation with what we got. If a property owner can get permission from somebody and you agree on it, then what's to stop the open fields down there that we could be putting food vendors or whatever down there," he says.

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But some opponents of the ordinance such as realtor Mike Selvaggio, say council should retain its current restrictions on mobile cart vendors to help promote small businesses.

"If there ever was a time to err on the side of giving people an opportunity, in this economic time, now is the time to do it," he says.

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The ordinance will be reintroduced at the council's November meeting.

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