Bel Air town officials voted Monday to reinforce a ban on mobile food and other vendors from selling along either of the downtown area's two main streets.
The town also will repave the block of Ellendale Street between Rock Spring Road (North Main Street) and Williams Street later this month, an improvement that several officials said is needed and welcome and will enhance the town's efforts to eventually extend the popular Ma & Pa trail through town.
The Board of Town Commissioners approved the downtown food truck ban, 5-0, as an amendment to the itinerant dealers, peddlers and solicitors ordinance that was changed this winter to allow mobile vendors to operate inside the town limits for the first time in decades.
The change approved during Monday's town meeting prohibits vendors from selling along Main and Bond streets from Heighe Street on the south to Broadway on the north.
Town Director of Administration Michael Krantz explained limitations on using downtown streets for mobile sales were agreed to among town officials, food vendors and the downtown business community when the decision was made earlier in the year to permit food trucks to operate in designated areas and the latest change "reinforce[s] that mutual understanding."
A map designating areas where food trucks could operate that was approved with the ordinance during the winter, specifically keep them off Main and Bond streets except in some limited places around the circuit and district courthouses.
Before the commissioners voted on the outright ban along Main and Bond, they held a public hearing during which no one spoke.
Commissioner David Carey requested that the wording of the change be amended to drop a provision that would have prohibited a mobile vendor from parking in a restricted area for more than five minutes. Carey said the provision would be too restrictive, particularly if a food truck owner or other vendor had personal business in town, such as with a bank or an attorney. Since the wording of the change already banned them from selling, he felt that would be adequate from an enforcement standpoint, and the other commissioners agreed.
The commissioners also voted to amend the ordinance to include ice cream, shaved ice and snowball vendors under its definitions of an itinerant dealer.
Carey said after the meeting he believed the town had received at least one complaint regarding vendors allegedly setting up along downtown along streets where they were not permitted, but he said no one had contacted him personally to complain.
The commissioners approved a $55,300 change order to an existing contract with Frank J. Goettner Construction of Kingsville to take care of the Ellendale Street job, which will also include some significant realignment of the block and the addition of eight parking spaces, according to Deputy Public Works Director Stephen Kline.
When the original contract to repave other streets was being put out to bid, Kline said, town staff did not believe there was enough money available in the budget to do the Ellendale block; however, about $48,000 was saved when the bids came in below budget. Kline said part of the $50,000 the town saved on the Gateway and Boulton traffic signal installation would be put toward the Ellendale job to cover the remaining cost.
"It's a great project; that area is getting a lot of traffic and it will look much better," Carey said. Commissioner Rob Reier noted the block is already a gateway to the Ma & Pa trail head on Williams Street and the street will undoubtedly play into the eventual extension of the trail through town to join the Forest Hill section of the trail.
Mayor Edward Hopkins agreed, noting the whole block is undergoing improvements by property owners and will one day serve as "a high profile pedestrian crossing" for the trail.
Kline said he expects the street work to begin during the last week of July and be completed by the first week of August, weather permitting.