February 22, 2012 10:25:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- The booming food cart industry is closer to spreading to Starkville. At least to the common areas of town.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday held the second public hearing to amend the city's peddler's ordinance, which would give food vendor's access to public parking spaces and right of ways.
Currently, local vendors post up on private property, like Hobie Dogs does at the old bus station at the corner of Lampkin Street and Jackson Street.
The amended ordinance would allow vendors to use a single public space for up to 12 consecutive hours at a time, at any time of the day. "Transient" vendors cannot sell alcohol and would have to meet state health department regulations and all city requirements to sell goods.
According to Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, the new ordinance would boost sales for local restaurants looking to expand into the mobile market. It would also encourage organic growth from new businesses.
"Food vendors and others setting up more impromptu food carts in road ways are a sign of the times," Dumas said. "Just this morning, there was a food cart at Bill Davis Photography selling breakfast.
"This is a creative way to interject different ideas and possibilities for businesses wanting to expand," Dumas added. "A number of restaurants have come to me wanting to do this. I think it will have a positive impact in allowing things to happen creatively."
The hearing came and went with just one public comment, as Alvin Turner attempted to link increased crime rates with mobile food carts.
"We work our police officers hard already," Turner said. "You all undoubtedly haven't had to break up two men or women fighting. You're putting more stress and strain on the police officers. You're probably going to have to help the police out."
None of the aldermen opposed the new ordinance, though there was extensive discussion about which zones vendors would be allowed, and how that would affect door-to-door vendors, like book salesmen.
Aldermen wrestled over whether to try and make a distinction between why certain types of vendors would be allowed in certain parts of the city. To avoid legal tangle, Dumas proposed limiting transient vendors to the new transect districts established in the form-based codes, which line portions of Lampkin Street, Highway 182 and parts of the Cotton District.
Aldermen also were advised by City Attorney Chris Latimer that the city could potentially be liable for any injuries involving a vendor in a public right away.
Aldermen are expected to make minor alterations to the ordinance before holding another public hearing at the next board meeting.
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