SHERIDAN — City council voted to table the third reading of mobile vending ordinances and passed a resolution that would lower the permit fees attached to those ordinances after community mobile vendors spoke against the proposed changes during a council meeting Monday night.
The vending ordinances council passed on the first two readings did not include permit fees. Council planned to pass a resolution that would establish permit fees alongside the third and final reading of the ordinances.
Community Development Director Brian Craig presented council with proposed fees of $350 for an annual permit and $700 for a mobile vending court permit. Craig presented council with lower proposed fees during previous council meetings and study sessions, and each time council members said they would like to see the fees raised.
Antonia Armenta-Miller, who co-owns the Bonafide Food Truck with her husband, said vendors discussed fees with the city several months ago and the two sides tentatively agreed to annual fees between $200 and $225. She said that while the permits are annual, vendors would not realistically be able to operate during the winter months; most of her truck’s sales, she said, are made between April and mid-October.
Armenta-Miller said the higher fees would be burdensome on top of the expenses her business already incurs.
“Every portion of food that goes out of our window costs us on more than one level. We pay wholesale, we pay for packaging, we pay for fuel to run,” Armenta-Miller said. “Running a mobile business is just as expensive as being a brick-and-mortar.”
Liz Cochran, who co-owns the Kona Ice of Big Horn truck with her husband, and Jamie Seaman, who operates the Burger Wagon, also spoke against the higher fees.
Mobile vendors currently pay $120 annually for a variable use permit to operate. The resolution council passed Monday night will not change that fee, it would only take effect if and when the vending ordinances are passed on third reading.
Council voted 6-1 to lower the fees to $200 for an individual annual permit and $400 for an annual permit for a mobile vending court. Councilor Patrick Henderson voted against lowering the fees.
Armenta-Miller also pointed out several rules in the ordinance that concerned her.
As currently written, Armenta-Miller said the punishments in the ordinances could be interpreted to allow the city to revoke a business’s mobile vending permit after one violation. Council agreed the ordinances should include a provision that would allow vendors a period of time to correct violations.
Armenta-Miller also said that a section of the ordinances that would prevent mobile vendors from operating within 200 feet of competing businesses would not hold up in court if it were challenged.
“Provisions very similar to this are being struck down nationwide,” Armenta-Miller said. “…If I wanted to open a brick and mortar business right next door to any other brick and mortar restaurant, there would be no provisions to [prevent that].”
Council agreed to have city attorney Brendan Kerns take a closer look at that section of the ordinance.
In addition, Armenta-Miller pushed back against the definition of mobile vendor in the ordinances, which would exclude vendors of fresh or ready-to-eat produce; she said, in order to be fair, the mobile vending ordinances should apply across the board.
Council agreed to table the third reading of the ordinances to address those concerns, and is expected to vote on the third reading of the ordinances during its June 4 meeting.
• City administrator Mark Collins presented an update on the city’s revenue from sales and use tax. He said the city’s revenue is up 5.2 percent from the same period last year and up 7.3 percent from the last year-to-date. He also said the city has seen a 13.2 percent increase in lodging tax from last year.
• Council also approved the second reading of the Highland Park planned unit development master plan. Craig said there have not been changes to the plan since first reading.
• Council approved a license agreement to lease the Smith Street alley next to the building at 150 North Main Street to Bee Tree, which is renovating the building into a restaurant and brewery. The business plans to use the alley to create an outdoor seating area. The city will charge the restaurant $1 per square foot per month, which totals $950 per month.