2007-07-12 / Front Page

Council may reconsider licensing East Ferry vendors

By Tom Shevlin

In response to a growing number of vendors requesting permission to conduct business on public property, Town Clerk Arlene Petit suggested that it may be time for council members to rethink the town's policy towards issuing peddler's licenses at East Ferry.

Recently the demand for one day peddler licenses has increased from retail sellers according to Petit. In the past, the Town Council has allowed peddlers licenses for special events. Over the last few weeks, however, the town has received multiple requests from the same individuals for licenses for the East Ferry area on days when there are no specific events being held.

Approving those applications may conflict with a council policy, which limits the number of seasonal vendors allowed to operate at East Ferry.

In 1996, the Town Council voted to limit the number of seasonal peddler licenses on public property at East Ferry to no more than three. Currently, three island businesses have seasonal licenses: Lucky Ridge Company, LLC dba Spinnakers Café, Stearns Farms Organic Produce, and Freddie Bing's Hotdog Thing. In addition, Del's Lemonade and Munroe Dairy both have restricted licenses to service island customers through their mobile units.

"Additional one day peddlers at the East Ferry beach area on more than an infrequent basis should be looked at, and if allowed, a change in policy should be considered," Petit wrote to the council.

Councilman Julio DiGiando, who had expressed concern at the last regularly scheduled council meeting regarding the up-tick and for-profit nature of peddler applications, stressed his reservations to issuing licenses to for-profit businesses.

"I am not personally comfortable with for-profits," DiGiando said.

Councilman Michael Schnack agreed saying that the issue needs further discussion.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski, who operated Paws and Claws on Narragansett Avenue for several years, voiced her opposition to allowing vendors to operate in the downtown area because it provides a free venue to seasonal vendors while year-round businesses have to endure a much greater cost of doing business, such as high rents. She further said that she was "totally against anyone from off-island," receiving peddler licenses.

Councilman William Kelly echoed the council's sentiments and suggested that the matter be put on the agenda for the next council meeting on July 23.

Two applications for one day peddler licenses were subsequently unanimously denied by council members: an application by Jeanne Comerford dba The Basket Lady to sell baskets at East Ferry on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22; and an application by Ruth Collins dba Crafts and Floral Arranging to sell crafts and floral arrangements also at East Ferry on Saturday, Aug. 18.

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