Scituate selectmen have approved a new hawker/peddler policy intended to reduce competition with nearby stores.
At their meeting on March 27, selectmen debated and approved the policy, which would prohibit cart vendors from selling their wares within 300 feet of a store selling similar goods. This past Tuesday, they approved new licenses under the new policy.
“It became evident as we received more applications that we would have to look at footage from restaurants and other locations,” said Kim Donovan, selectmen administrator who spearheaded the new policy’s creation.
The restriction was initially proposed at 500 feet, but after selectmen realized that distance would pretty much prohibit anyone from selling wares within the waterfront, the number was scaled back.
The new policy is intended to address complaints that sprung up last year, when storeowners said that vendors located near their doors were hurting business.
“I would like you to take into consideration that in the past two years you have issued a license to someone selling similar wares within someone within 250 feet of my business. It has an impact on my yearlong operation, and I would ask you to think about the impact it has on my business before issuing it again,” said Marilyn Howe, the owner of Sands End Café, told selectmen.
Selectmen said they heard her complaints and were hopeful about the new policy.
Under the new terms, food and craft vendors will be allowed at one of six locations in town in order to restrict the number of licenses given out. Frozen desert vendors are able to go to one of four locations.
The new policy also requires vendors to get a state license, which have stricter background checks and qualifications.
In addition to paying the $62 state license, vendors will also now have to shell out more money for the town’s license, which is rising to $50 from $15 a year to compensate for the significant work town employees put into vendor management, officials said.
Local vendors in the room on March 27 seem displeased with the changes, but came back to selectmen the following week to renew their licenses under the new mandate.
On April 3, selectmen granted three frozen dessert vendors licenses in addition to a license to Paul Crowley, who owns a signage shop. Selectmen also approved JP’s Hot Dog Express at Lighthouse Parking Lot.
The owner of Beach Buns is looking for a new location after most of Humarock was outlawed under the new mandate, and Stellwagon Franks was permitted just outside the 300-foot boundary at Cole Parkway.
Despite the new restrictions, selectmen have said they are able to make exceptions to the 300-foot policy.
Selectman Jo Norton said it was silly to have a policy only to make exceptions, but others were hesitant to create a rule that might not be workable for all beach locations.
“We have in bold letters than nothing can be sold of a similar nature within 300 feet, but we’re potentially breaking that," Norton said with a shake of his head. "If they are outside 300 feet, then I don’t have a problem."
Issues regarding Heritage Days, St. Patrick’s Day parade, and Carnival were less clear, but the overall policy, and its implication, would take some time to sort through, selectmen said.
“We’ll figure out this policy as we move through the season,” said Chairman Tony Vegnani.