Baxter City Council splits in vote on seasonal vending

BAXTER--City council members split in a vote on a proposed ordinance change, which could give businesses an option to add seasonal vending. That means a mobile vending unit, such as a food trailer, could be parked at the business for the summer s...


BAXTER-City council members split in a vote on a proposed ordinance change, which could give businesses an option to add seasonal vending.

That means a mobile vending unit, such as a food trailer, could be parked at the business for the summer season. The question first came up as Morey's Seafood Markets requested an option to add an auxiliary kitchen in order to reimagine its restaurant. Morey's had a restaurant as part of a previous location but said there isn't room in the current building on Audubon Way next to Von Hanson's Meats. Morey's management imagined a mobile trailer or version of a food truck parked next to the building to sell restaurant offerings to customers.

Josh Doty, Baxter community development planner presented a draft ordinance limiting the seasonal vending to 100 consecutive days and making the ordinance specifically for grocery stores to provide prepared food items and non-alcoholic beverages customarily sold inside the store. In the draft ordinance, the seasonal vendor would remain stationary on the private property on paved surfaces that didn't interfere with pedestrian routes, traffic movement, required parking and emergency access. Hours would be set from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Regulations in the proposed ordinance covered the appearance and refuse management. Among items prohibited: umbrellas, seating, roof signs, amplified sound, lighting, and drive-thrus. Among required items: insurance, architectural review, permanent underground hookups for power or a generator. The seasonal permit came with a $300 fee but without water and sewer accessibility fees, which are required when accounting for additional traffic from outdoor patio seating at restaurants.

Doty said it was a discussion topic that could go either way and the council played that prediction out as members debated it last week.

Council member Todd Holman, who previously stated he was not in favor, asked if the ordinance addressed the disposal of fats, oils and grease or whether the mobile unit operator may dump waste down a perhaps more convenient spot-namely the parking lot sewer drain. Holman wondered how that would be monitored.


Council member Quinn Nystrom questioned if outdoor seating may be an option such as a picnic table to allow flexibility. That was considered but later council members agreed it may open more concerns, in part the equality of the fee structure given the patio requirements. Council member Mark Cross, who earlier suggested the option could be open to more businesses, said he was concerned with the time limit and suggested it could be year-round.

Steve Frank, founder with Morey's, requested the council consider expanding the days to allow for a nice spring or long fall, perhaps 120 or 150 days. Nystrom also agreed more days may work better and give the business a little flexibility given the investment it would be required to provide.

Holman said with the ordinance, six grocery stores would qualify, but he worried the ordinance would set a precedent and open a door the council would have difficulty closing if another type of store wanted the mobile venting unit as well.

City attorney Brad Person said the council would have legal standing to keep it to the grocery stores but there may be political pressure to expand the ordinance. Mayor Darrel Olson said if the council limits it to food he didn't know why it would be hard to say no to other things. Holman said not everyone sees it that way, and he wasn't sure the council could keep this ordinance in its box.

"I'm not convinced we can, but that is my opinion," Holman said.

Olson said he respected everyone's opinion, hearing Holman's concerns and how Morey's for one would handle them. Olson said it seemed as though the concerns and questions were not insurmountable. One concern was where the mobile unit would be stored in the off season as council members didn't want it to be an eyesore out front.

Holman's other concern, that no size restrictions were in the draft ordinance, gained more traction with the other council members.

"It could be a semi trailer, how does it impact the view for the neighbor?" Holman asked. "These are just some of the issues that are related to that. I would just ask you all to think about that."


Cross noted he had a picture in his mind of what this would look like from the auxiliary kitchen description, but he too was opposed to a semitrailer in the parking lot along Highway 371.

"I don't want to see that," Cross said. "So I guess we need to come to some kind of consensus what this is. ... I'm starting to see school buses with tacos."

Morey's suggestion was for an 18-foot trailer taking up two parking spaces. The council discussed what requirements for height and size may be. Olson said all were good points. He asked the council if members thought there was a way this could work in the city.

"I'd like to find a way to make this work, but as it is written here I can't support this," council member Steve Barrows said.

"I still don't think it's insurmountable to allow this type of use in the city of Baxter," Nystrom said.

In the end, the council voted 3-2 with Holman and Barrows opposed to sending the draft ordinance back for more work-bringing it back to the council next month.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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