Tuesday, June 22, 2010

There will be no vendor carts in the downtown district

Monday's city council meeting

Monday evening’s public hearing and council motion on the “cart path of least residence” put speakers at ease. The vote came down 5-2 with Mayor David Bowers and Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea voting “no.”

Vendor carts will only be allowed at greenways and parks. The most popular spots are likely to be at Carilion Medical Center and the heavily used portions of the greenway said Council member Anita Price.

Councilman Dave Trinkle agreed that “now is not the time” for vendor carts downtown. He left the door open for the future when foot traffic increases. He is also an advocate for menu restrictions. Trinkle doesn’t want to see a pizza vendor near his restaurants that specialize in pizzas he said in a previous council briefing.

Trinkle repeated his hopes that restaurants could appeal a permit if a vendor was impeding on a restaurant’s competition. Chris Chittum, planning administrator said that would be taken care of at the application level.

Lea thought that “it was being pushed faster than it should.”

Bowers said he “heard no one clamoring for it right now.”

At a May 3 briefing staff was asked to hold a second public forum with modification to the vendor cart plan.

Modifications included separating the vendor carts from restaurants by 100 feet; permit vending only within the parks located in the downtown zoning district; and raising the permit fees.

With these modification another forum was held on May 25. Restaurant owners still complained that street vendors would have a drastic affect on their businesses through unfair competition and the fees were still too low. Several restaurant owners refused to support any street vendors anywhere downtown.

With the two-cent meals tax increase pinching the already teetering downtown restaurants City Manager Chris Morrill had suggested starting first where there is no conflict.

The application fee for a street vendor is $75 and permit fees are $3.25 a square foot. The carts must be placed 42 inches from the edge of the sidewalk.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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