Council divided 4-3 on whether to allow trucks on public property
By Mark Reaman
The Crested Butte Town Council will consider changes next week to the town vending codes to allow merchandise trucks in town. The council set a public hearing for June 18 to look at proposed changes to the rules.
One issue of contention within the council was whether to allow the trucks to utilize public land at the Four-way Stop and Big Mine Park or restrict the trucks to private property. That issue was divided 4-3, so the council is looking for more public comment on the matter.
The council will consider the additions to the code and limit the number of merchandise truck, cart or booth permits to two. Currently, the town code allows for two food carts, but no merchandise trucks. The trucks would have to be located at least 10 feet from the sidewalk to avoid impeding pedestrian traffic and they would be allowed only in the summer season, from Memorial Day through September.
The idea came to the council when local resident Laci Wright asked to be allowed to sell merchandise including t-shirts from a truck in town. She wants to operate in the summer under limited hours but felt such a venue could add to the character of Crested Butte.
Mayor Jim Schmidt did not like the idea of allowing the trucks at the Four-way Stop. Councilman Chris Haver agreed.
“I have spoken to a lot of businesses about this and I don’t have a problem with locating the merchandise trucks on private lots because those properties can charge what they want for rent. The main complaint I have heard is that allowing them to be on public property for free competes unfairly with rents charged to other businesses. It provides a leg up. I am good with it on private property.”
“I disagree,” responded councilman Will Dujardin. “We have talked about this issue a couple of times now and I haven’t gotten any negative feedback about allowing them at these spots like the Four-way. I’d let them be there and I’d even suggest allowing them to be there starting May 1.”
“What is the difference between a merchandise truck at the Four-way and Doug Mattice setting up his fruit and vegetable vans?” asked councilwoman Laura Mitchell. “He is competing against some businesses in town.”
“At the time he was under consideration we asked for comments and never received any negative comments,” said Schmidt.
“I think it is fair to allow it and give someone a shot for a year to see how it goes,” said Dujardin.
“I am reluctant to allow it on public property as well,” said councilman Kent Cowherd.
The council moved to set the regulation changes, including the allowance for the trucks to be located on some public property, for public hearing at the June 18 meeting. Schmidt, Haver and Cowherd voted against the motion.
“I encourage public input on this before the next meeting,” said councilman Jackson Petito.