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City adopts new vendor ordinance

Vendors planning to peddle their wares at Brookhaven festivals and events will soon have several hoops to jump through before setting up.

City attorney Joe Fernald distributed a new proposed version of the city’s transient vendor ordinance at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting that will address concerns about where those vendors set up and whether they have permission to set up.

Joe Fernald

Joe Fernald

“This is the transient vendor ordinance that is ready for adoption,” Fernald said. “This will replace the old ordinance. The old one was basically about two paragraphs long. This one is a lot more detailed as to what we are going to expect from people and how it’s going to work and what’s required.”

The ordinance says that a “healthy environment for business and commerce is in the best interest” of the city and that an ordinance is necessary “for the promotion of a health business environment.”

The regulation will provide transient vendors with defined requirements for licensing and operation at an event.

The board unanimously passed the ordinance after Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice made the motion and Ward 1 Aldermen Randy Belcher seconded it.

The ordinance outlines how a transient vendor should apply and obtain a license to transact business. They will be required to file the license application with the county tax collector.

Transient vendors will not be allowed to operate within the central business district of the city, unless allowed by the mayor and board. That requires a special permit.

The ordinance does not apply to civic and nonprofit organizations, or any sale, fair, circus, auction or bazaar sponsored by a church or religious organization; garage sales held on premises devoted to residential use; sales or repairs of crafts or sales or repairs of items made by hand by the person making the crafts or items; duly licensed flea markets operating from a fixed location; and the sales of agricultural services.

The Farmers’ Market and Ole Brook Festival are examples of vendors that will not be affected by the newly revised ordinance, Fernald said.

The issue of the transient vendors ordinance presented itself earlier this year when Fernald sited several incidents where vendors were causing trouble for permanent business owners downtown.

“It seems like a great deal of people downtown are more interested in ordinances that specifically speak to the downtown area and how things are set up,” Fernald said at a previous meeting. “We need to have some type of ordinance, something that goes with the transit vendors ordinance, that tells people when you’re going to have a special event, if in fact vendors are going to be there, you need to have spots aligned for them, where they have to have some identification and they have to pay something.”

Fernald said the city has seen an increasing number of problems arise from festivals that do not track vendors. He said during some festivals, people just showed up and started setting up booths.

“There was no registration,” Fernald said. “They had people blocking traffic and telling us we’d be arrested if we tried to go around their markers.”

Fernald said cleanup after festivals with unregistered vendors is also a problem.

“The cleanup from these things is extensive,” Fernald said. “It’s not as bad with the Ole Brook Festival — they clean everything up. Everybody accepts Ole Brook Festival for what it is and the other festivals are big opportunities too, but we need to be able to police them.”

Fernald said he hopes the new ordinance will fix some of the problems business owners have seen in the last few years.

“The problem is, we’ve had some tremendous complaints from the downtown area,” Fernald said. “There was one vendor in particular that just set up a kitchen and he moved it all over. There’s got to be some way to stop that. Now that we have five thriving restaurants — I think that was what spurred this. It will go a long way to make the downtown a little bit cleaner.”

The transient vendor ordinance will go into effect mid-September. The complete ordinance can be seen at the City Clerk’s office.