Street vendor fee waived for volunteerism

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Vicki Toole’s cheeks were flushed from that evening’s exercise class when she slipped into the meeting room.

When she left the Naples Town Hall, she was glowing because she would still be able to offer half-priced Zumba classes in the outdoor setting of the Causeway amphitheater.

The Naples Board of Selectmen had voted to waive the street vendor fee, and to accept the $100 application fee, which Toole has already paid.

Although for-profit vendors can be charged up to $2,000 a season, the selectmen can adjust that fee. That is stated in the public land use ordinance, also known as the street vendor ordinance.

During the meeting on Monday, the board discussed a fee of $100 to $150 as a fair range since there is a cost to participants in the Zumba classes that would take place on public land.

Toole charges $5 and, on average, eight people attend the outdoor class each week, she said. The Zumba classes at the Amphitheater will take place on Thursday evenings from June through September, she said.

In the end, the selectmen decided to waive the cost, primarily based on two things. One: Toole does not teach Zumba classes on the Causeway to make a profit.

Secondly, Toole volunteers her time to the community and helps with nonprofits like Project Graduation. Last summer, she provided free Zumba classes on the Causeway to help out Naples Main Street.

Also, the Zumba classes draw the attention of passers-by who stop and watch or even join, which causes people to stay in Naples longer and patronize local businesses — as pointed out by Selectman Rick Paraschak.

“Naples Main Street. That is my defense. She gives back to the community,” Paraschak said.

“It is not for my personal benefit,” Toole said.

Toole, who owns Fountain of You Fitness Studio, is the first business person to apply for the street vendor license.

The Street Vendor ordinance was approved at Town Meeting two years ago. However, that version had language that did not convey the intent of the ordinance.

Several public meetings took place with an attorney present, and members of the community helped to rework the language.

The revised Street Vendor ordinance was passed at town meeting in the spring of 2014.

At that point, it was too late in the season to go through the process of licensing street vendors.

“It was passed last year. But, people were already gearing up for last summer. We didn’t implement it last summer,” Paraschak said, explaining the reason the application process was postponed for a year.

“It didn’t come into play last year. It comes into play this year. Groups using that (public space) have to come to us, have to pay an application fee,” Robert Caron said.

Earlier, Caron said he favored a small licensing fee, especially if a business has the opportunity to make a profit. If a cost is charged to customers, then a street vendor fee should be charged also, he said.

Later, Caron said to Toole, “The dilemma is you are the first person on our docket to ask for the waiver of the fee for 15 weeks.”

Board members said the dilemma was setting precedence for waiving fees.

One of the questions asked was: If another business or individual offered outdoor exercise classes, would the fee be waived because it provides something healthy to the community? Providing a healthy service to people had been an argument for waiving Toole’s street vendor fee.

However, it was decided that was not sound reasoning.

The $100 application fee for the street vendor permit is nonrefundable. It covers the cost of staff time and paperwork.

To date, the board has waived fees for nonprofits and plans to continue that practice. Also, vendors who come to the Causeway as part of the Maine Blues Festival are covered under the umbrella of the not-for-profit festival.

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