SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Food trucks would not be allowed to operate at the traffic turnout on Route 102 near the Manset corner under a proposed permitting system for other “mobile vendors” at that location.
Selectmen Tuesday night expressed no opposition to Town Manager Don Lagrange’s proposed amendment to the parking ordinance, which they indicated they would vote on at their next meeting.
The sale of “food, agriculture products and crafts” could be done from a “mobile vehicle” between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday from May 1 through Oct. 30. The town clerk could issue permits for up to three vendors for Monday, Wednesday and Friday and up to three for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Annual permits would be issued on a first-come basis and would cost $30.
The proposed ordinance states that “on-site preparation of food products for immediate consumption on site is not allowed.” That would exclude most food trucks.
The proposed ordinance was prompted by the traffic generated by a food truck operated by Cassiar O’Neill at the Manset turnout last summer. Lagrange and other town officials said the resulting congestion, with people parking on both sides of the road, was a safety hazard.
Lagrange first proposed a vendor permitting system and food truck ban last fall. O’Neill and her father, Bob Cousins, spoke against it at a selectmen’s meeting in November. Cousins said it directly and unfairly targeted his daughter and would put her out of business. Selectmen decided to take no action on the proposed vending regulations.
Two months ago, Lagrange presented a revised plan for regulating roadside vending that included the food truck ban. But several board members expressed reservations.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, selectman Lydia Goetze emphasized that mobile vending regulations would apply only to “a particular location on the state highway to protect traffic safety.”
Referring to the proposed prohibition against “on-site preparation of food products,” former selectman Kristin Hutchins asked, “But if I made sandwiches ahead of time, and they’re all wrapped, and I’m not preparing them there, then I could sell them?”
The answer was yes.
Resident Nancy Weingarten agreed with the contention that roadside food trucks create safety problems, even if the customer takes the food to eat somewhere else.
“You could still have 17 people waiting for cooking to go on, and that would be a huge safety issue,” she said.
Norwood noted that the proposed ordinance would limit parking at the Manset turnout to 20 minutes, except for the vendors.
“That stops people from being there an hour waiting for a dinner to be prepared,” he said.
O’Neill was not at Tuesday’s meeting, but two vendors who have been regulars at the Manset turnout for the past several years were.
Raymond Chipman of Milbridge, who is known as the “fish man,” and Anny Seavey of Southwest Harbor, the “pie lady,” said following the meeting that they do not object to the proposal that the town issue permits to operate at the turnout on alternate days only.