Trustees cogitate on peddler codes

nederland town hall

John Scarffe, Nederland.     In the absence of Mayor Joe Gierlach and Trustees Kevin Mueller and Charles Wood, the Town of Nederland Board of Trustees heard a proposal to modify existing codes for peddlers and solicitors during the regular meeting on Tuesday, July 1, at 7 p.m. at the Nederland Community Center. Mayor Pro-Tem Peter Fiori led a quasi-discussion on the codes involving five members of the public.

Town Administrator Alisha Reis said the town has issued five licenses over the last five years for peddlers and solicitors. “We like tacos,” she said.

RoyYoung, owner of Nature’s Own, submitted a request to reconsider the Peddler and Solicitor Code for the Town. According to the request, he has questions about cart vendors in the town.

“I started as an internet seller myself,” Young told the Board. “Most have been calling on other businesses. We moved to Nederland and have owned Nature’s Own for 28 years.”

He said his employees are concerned about cart vendors. He has hired local for three decades, and has hired Gilpin residents at the Lazy Z Casino in Black Hawk.

Young said he has been involved in the community and has sympathy with those who think a temporary license is okay, but as a year-around employer, it’s difficult all but four months of the year to have a successful business in Nederland.

“It’s taking the icing off the cake and taking the cream off the milk,” Young said. “You’ve got a four-month window to make it or not make it. For eight months of the year all you do is pay the bills.”

Local businesses have to set up a system that competes with those who have business year round. “If I had people competing with me I still wouldn’t be here,” Young said.

During the public comment agenda item, Susan Ayer said: “I’m the one this is all about. I’m the sole owner of an LLC since December. I did all the licensing.

“I bought a cart and have been cooking out of my kitchen. I have lived in Nederland for 20 years and my daughter graduated in 1999,” Ayer said.

“I am mobile but the cart weighs a lot. My business is seasonal. I’m not out in the weather with frozen fruit,” Ayer said. “I’m inventory-dependent.”

Ayer said she needs to be in an area where she can get foot traffic. She read from a Town resolution encouraging businesses such as cottage industries and light retail moving toward an independent community while demonstrating how people can work together. She asked that she be allowed to carry out her retail business when the weather is nice.

Kathleen  Chippi, owner of One Brown Mouse, got ahead of the game by signing up to speak during the non-agenda public comments, but talked about the vendor issue. “I think I need to speak up on the fact that staff are unclear about town code,” Chippi said.

“Why is one item on the agenda — vending and licensing? Licenses are available for the Town that allow vending on private property.  The application says on private property.

“The license doesn’t mean anything. As a business owner I have a right to have a vendor on my private property, which is more consistent with someone passing through town. I challenged the Town for the last four years and the Town hasn’t done anything because the Town doesn’t have a right to tell me I can’t have a vendor on my property as long as I pay taxes.”

Mayor-pro-tem Fiori pointed out that Chippi was out of order. The Board does not allow discussion on informational items.

Carol Stimmel said she had a lot of compassion for both sides and comments she read on Facebook scared her a lot. She owns a small business in Boulder, and the vendor with the cart in Nederland worked within the system to get everything right.

“It got real personal,” Stimmel said. “What are the right ways to clarify the law so this doesn’t happen and we can bring vitality to the town? We don’t need to take the rights away of people who want to make some money selling.”

Scott Smith said if the Board takes up this business as an action item, he would want to be involved in changing Town codes, because he is aware of other options to brick and mortar businesses. Very few locations for any business come available in town, so maybe mobile vendors can see if their business can be successful and then go to brick and mortar.

Cori Boogaard, owner of the Smokehouse and Brewery, said the Board needed to review current parking statutes, and they need to be fairly applied to all businesses. The Town should create mobile food vendor regulations like Boulder does. Otherwise, it gives an unfair advantage to seasonal, mobile vendors. “Who monitors for licenses, trash and recycling?” she asked. “How many locals does that employ? If we have a parking issue how can we allow vendors to take up three spaces?”

Boulder licenses must be previewed annually and are subject to annual inspections.

Operating a small business in extremely challenging, she said.

Reis explained that Nederland’s regulations on food trucks are treated differently than food carts and differently than the barbecue at the Quick Mart, which is on private land. All vendors or peddlers are responsible for sales tax.

Trustee Randy Lee asked who has been damaged by a food cart. “Until we start getting lots of applications, I’m at a loss to see this level of concern,” he said. “If a shaved ice cart prompts people to get out of their car, they’re going to wander down the street to other businesses. I don’t see it has a negative necessarily. They can’t operate in winter months. I’m not feeling the need to revise our code.”

Trustee Topher Donahue said he came up with one good story. “When I came to Nederland, all I saw was parking lots. I’ve never seen a town with as many bars as Nederland. A place that has color and flair provided by street vendors would be good for brick and mortar businesses.

“They don’t have the overhead. We should embrace it and try to make it ideal. If we see more applications, then maybe we can make some changes.”

Mayor-pro-tem Fiori said he would take the unpopular issue. The Town decided to allow ATMs on private land, and now they have six.

“To be economically sustainable, we have to protect our town,” Fiori said. “There really is a three-month period for business. Everyone seems to be quite adamant. Their overhead and the way they have to survive the six months, we need to protect our businesses.

“If we allow people to skim off the top just for the three months, they might not be able to stay open. I propose that we talk about this. Let’s have our board of seven talk about this.

“The 29 Nederland businesses are asking us to change our code to better suit our economy. We’re not talking about you or your cart. We’re talking about our code. We should hone the system to make it more fair. Let’s have the planning commission and DDA come up with some plans.”

The Board agreed to get input from the Downtown Development Authority, the Planning Commission, and the Sustainability Advisory Board. Then they will have a quick discussion with a full board.