2017-05-12 / Front Page

Arundel gets first food truck

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — More that 20 years after adopting a street vendor ordinance, the town of Arundel has its first roadside food truck, although the license was not issued without a fair degree of confusion and legal consultation.

At a recent planning board meeting, Lyman resident David Wallace sought clearance to move his food trailer, The Seahog, which he currently operates in Lyman, to 1654 Portland Road in Arundel, next to Just In Time Antiques, having reached an agreement with the property owner to set up in the parking lot.

From his trailer, which measures 8-feet-by-16 feet, Wallace sells fried seafood, sausage and steak subs, hot dogs and hamburgers.

However, the planning board declined to hear that request, Town Manager Keith Trefethen said, because there is no mention of mobile food trailers as an allowed function in the town’s land use ordinance.

“The common practice of the town, through the planner and the CEO [code enforcement officer], was that the land use ordinance doesn’t address it, so therefore it doesn’t exist,” Trefethen said following the May 8 meeting of the board of selectmen. “So, then this gentleman did his homework and found this ordinance and came to the last selectmen’s meeting with it and said, ‘Hey, what’s this?’

What it was, was an street vendor ordinance adopted by Arundel voters at the 1996 annual town meeting, which Wallace found on the town website.

In an April 28 email to Wallace, Trefethen said he had consulted the previous day with town attorney Leah Rachin, of Saco/Kennebunk law firm Bergen Parkinson. The question — which takes precedence: The 1996 ordinance that allows roadside food trucks in Arundel, or the town’s land use ordinance, which disallows them by omission?

“Through that discussion we believe an argument could be made either way, for or against the placement of food trucks in Arundel,” Trefethen wrote.

That being the case, Trefethen decided that, in essence, tie goes to the runner, and so he invited Wallace to submit a license application to selectmen under the terms of the 1996 ordinance.

The board voted unanimously May 8 to grant Wallace a yearlong license (cost: $100), allowing him to operate at the Portland Road site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days per week, until Nov. 1.

According to Trefethen, the 1996 ordinance does not have a start and end date to street vendor licenses granted by the town, other than to refer to it as an “annual” permit. That means that, while selectmen set a Nov. 1 end date for food sales on site, the license itself does not need to be renewed until March 31, 2018.

At the May 8 session, Wallace asked the board to allow him to keep the lights on past 7 p.m. as part of its licensing conditions.

“The idea is to be open for lunch and dinner,” he said. “It’s not very often you get to go out to eat [for dinner] in southern Maine before 7 p.m. I have no reason to open at 7 a.m. but would certainly like to be open later, until 9 or 10 p.m.”

However, selectmen said their hands were tied by the 1996 ordinance, which lists specific hours of operation allowed for street vendors.

“I don’t think we can violate our ordinance,” Selectman Dan Dubois said. “In the land use ordinance it says things like that can be waived, but this is clearly part of the [street vendor] ordinance that is there.”

“We’d have to go to town meeting to change that. We’re hamstrung,” Selectman Thomas Danylik agreed.

Wallace complained that an antique shop across Route 1 from the Seahog site has a take-out food business, one which “can be open any time they want.”

“They’re zoned as a restaurant,” Trefethen said. “They’re not on wheels. It’s a different beast.”

Trefethen said that with the license granted, Wallace does not need to go before the planning board for a site plan review.

“There’s nothing to do with the planning board at this point,” he said. “I think we are going to have to massage that ordinance, but for right now we believe he’s OK to go.”

“At some point, the planning board will take this up and put some performance standards in here,” Dubois said.

The standards in the 1996 ordinance are fairly sparse, requiring only that Wallace keep his trailer at least 200 feet from the intersection of Route 1 with Campground Road and Log Cabin Road, that trash be collected with 100 feet of the trailer, and that it not impede access to the antique store.

Wallace also must submit to a health inspection by the town “prior to opening and periodically thereafter.” He also had to show proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

Trefethen said he is hopeful that, as some point before this fall, the planning board will review the street vendor ordinance and submit suggestions to repeal it and incorporate an updated version into the town’s land use codes. Those changes would then need to go to a special town meeting for voter approval, he said.

Assuming new rules are adopted by the town before Wallace’s vendor license is up for renewal, he would have to conform to the revised standards, Trefethen said. Granting a license this year does not “grandfather” Wallace’s operation to the few rules now in place past the expiration of his current license, Trefethen said.

“If he wants to reapply, then whatever standards are then on the books would have to be adhered to,” he said.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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