Naples adds amendments to street vendor ordinance

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The majority of the voting taxpayers in Naples opted to add new amendments to last year’s Street Vendor Ordinance — rather than fall back on a 1976 ordinance.

In fact, most of the testimony showed that people thought it would be a disaster to vote down the amendments, or to repeal the 2013 ordinance, which was also a Warrant Article.

During Naples Town Meeting, approximately three-fourths of the 82 people present supported the revisions to the ordinance that governs the sale of products in public rights-of-way.

About 15 people opposed the amendments. The most frequently-cited reason for business owners was the uncertainty of waivers to the ordinance — especially in the future, when there is a change of the people sitting on the Naples Board of Selectmen.

Already during previous workshops, the amendments had been altered to waive street vendor fees for those people participating in festivals and town-sponsored events. Additionally, on a case-by-case basis, the board could waive or lower those fees as mentioned by Naples Selectman Kevin Rogers.

“I wanted to point out to merchants that there is a waiver. You have the opportunity to get waivers. It’s not that you are high and dry,” Rogers said.

The ordinance includes an annual fee to acquire the license to sell goods in the public rights-of-way; and, also there is a per item charge for outdoor dining. Over the past year, that was a concern for Naples business owners, and those fees were reduced as amendments took shape.

The majority of the people who spoke prior to the vote backed the amendments to the ordinance.

Former selectman Bob Caron Sr. spoke as an audience member.

“I spent three years working on this ordinance. It would be disrespectful to not pass Article 45.

He pointed out that the town should protect its investment. Naples has contributed $1 million to improvement on the Causeway, he said.

“We need to keep this ordinance, and continue to make changes,” Caron said.

Longtime-resident Sonny Burnham agreed.

“To kill this new ordinance, and not let it go through and see what needs to be fixed — that would be a disaster,” Burnham said.

Jack “Skip” Meeker Jr. stated that the amendments don’t properly address abandoned licenses. Many Causeway businesses are seasonal and shut down during the winter months, and those business owners should not be subject to abandoned license fines for not using the permit year-round, he said. Meeker was among those who voted against the amendments and supported another article to repeal the ordinance that was passed last year at Town Meeting.

Warrant Article 44 was to repeal the 2013 ordinance. A valid citizens’ petition put that item before the Town Meeting voters.

About one-fourth of those present voted for the repeal. Therefore, the ordinance stayed in place.

Resident Patricia Maxim was concerned about the consequences of repealing the most recent street vendor ordinance.

“Reading this at home, I thought it was scary to repeal 44 and go back to the ‘76 standards. I have seen the ‘76 standards happen, especially on the corner of Route 35 where an ice cream truck had parked. I have seen it; and that is what is going to happen if we repeal it,” she said.

Larry Anton, who serves as chairman on the Naples Planning Board, testified against it.

“It is very difficult to write an ordinance. After you write it, there are unintended consequences. You have public hearings, you meet the objections,” he said.

“Throwing an ordinance out completely without even looking at amendments to the ordinance is wrong,” Anton said.

 

 

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