Council reverse tabling of roadside stand ordinance, approves second reading

BURTON — The second reading of an ordinance covering roadside stands, mobile food vending and sidewalk sales, tabled by the Burton City Council last month, was taken off the table June 1 and approved by a 5-2 vote.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance May 4, but after discussion chose to table the second reading on May 18, with the intention of bringing it back up for consideration Sept. 21.

Councilman Greg Fenner brought the item back up, saying he thinks the second reading should be considered now to protect existing businesses in the community from flyby night operations that might pop up and open a tent sale.

“Right now, you can have a guy set up a tent across the road from Jim Mathis (shoe store) and sell shoes out of a tent,” Fenner argued. “This is what this will prohibit – people with little or no investment in this city… competing against restaurants in that area with no benefit to the city.”

He mentioned a food trailer that opened at the corner of Saginaw Street and Hemphill Road last summer and competed against Trapper Joes and other restaurants for the entire season.

Councilwoman Tina Conley said her only concern with the ordinance was the possibility there would be fees assessed to existing businesses who want to hold a tent or sidewalk sale.

Deputy Department of Public Works Director Amber Abbey said she was reviewing other local ordinances and saw that in communities with temporary ordinances it became evident this should be a zoning ordinance instead of a standalone, police powered ordinance. The ordinance is designed more to regulate the time a business can operate a tent or sidewalk sale or roadside stand.

She assured councilmembers at the June 1 meeting there are zero fees in the ordinance and said there wouldn’t be unless the finance committee or council decided on fees after ordinance approval.

Councilman Tom Martinbianco made the initial push last month to table the ordinance, seeing it as a potential burden on businesses trying to recover from the COVID- 19 shutdown. He recommended the tabling until fall so the DPW could report back on how the summer went.

“What a tough time it is for businesses – legitimate and illegitimate – more regulation is not necessarily the best answer,” he said. “The state of the economy was my other reason to wait until Sept. 21, go through another summer period and see where problems are, have them well documented by the DPW.

“It’s like a cooling off period,” said Martinbianco. “It puts people on notice that we’re watching. I think Sept. 21 is far time to revisit it.”

In the end, Councilman Dennis O’Keefe brought the item off the table, seconded by Fenner, and the council approved it 4-3, Martinbianco and President Steve Heffner voting against the ordinance.