Time constraints called prohibitive to business

Rev. Kevin Patterson and his wife, Sherry, would very much like to relocate to the Florida Keys. But without the opportunity to generate some additional income with their shaved ice truck, they’d likely have to reconsider their move.

The pair has been in town this week leading services at the Marathon Church of Christ, a small congregation with limited funds.

“Part of the consideration for me taking this job is the allowance to have secular income,” said the Missouri resident. “I understand the downfalls of mobile vending units, but if this passes, my wife and three kids couldn’t afford to live here.”

The pair continued the pleas uttered by Stanley Switlik’s special education teacher Steve Ferrise two weeks ago when the Marathon City Council read the proposed amendment to their ordinance that limited mobile food carts to operate for a maximum of two hours of approved private property and 10 minutes of city rights of way.

The 10-minute right of way limitation, according to City Manager Roger Hernstadt, was designed to allow pedestrians the opportunity to flag down a mobile vendor who’d then be permitted to sell their wares and then continue along their route.

Councilwoman Ginger Snead, however, voiced that she was concerned about the clarity of the proposed changes.

“My understanding from your last reading of this was that it didn’t apply to food but all vending units within the City of Marathon,” Snead protested, to which Mayor Pete Worthington clarified, “Anything other than food is not allowed.”

City Attorney John Herin said since discussion arose as the whether or not food, sunglasses or even books may or may not be sold from a mobile vendor, perhaps an additional paragraph at the end of the ordinance could clarify that no other type of mobile vending other that food would be permitted.

Attorney Chris Waldera called into question during public comment whether or not mobile marine mechanics would fall under the new constraints.

“Mobile food vending is already highly regulated,” Waldera added. “To limit their hours of operation for someone who’d go through the expense of permitting, insuring and establishing their business, seems to be unreasonable.”

At Vice Mayor Dick Ramsay’s request, Herin clarified that a plumber or mobile marine mechanic is considered a professional service, not a product being sold to the public.

“I believe this is an ordinance in the best interest of our city,” Ramsay added.

The proposed amendment to allow mobile food vending carts to operate for a maximum of two hours on private property and ten minutes on city rights of way passed four to one with Snead voting against it.

In other business:

• Monroe County Mayor David Rice addressed the council and audience to clarify rumors swirling around the privatization of Marathon Florida Keys Airport.

“The only privatization we’re talking about is whether or not we contract with a firm that specializes in airport management or opt to hire a county employee after Reggie Parros retires in June,” Rice noted. “The status of the airport will not change. FAA funding would make it virtually impossible to privatize the airport, but not airport management.”

Snead also took the opportunity to ask Rice, who maintains at office above the airport terminal, to address the overgrown landscaping in front of the facility.

“It’s a sore spot with me, and I have to pass it every day,” he assured. “That’s to be taken care of. We may be slow, but we’re certain.”

• After attending a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Jesse Hobbs Park, Ramsay asked the council to find funding to replace the weather-worn sign at the city-managed park.

“That sign is a rotten piece of plywood ready to fall down,” Ramsay reported, to which Cinque suggested even exploring the possibility in the next budget sessions of adding some restroom facilities in addition to replacing the sign.

• Councilman Rich Keating’s proposal to consider additional compensation for Hernstadt quickly fizzled when Cinque and Ramsay said the council was not currently in budget season.

“I think Roger’s done a good job, but I won’t discuss any compensation until budget time when we discuss compensating all our employees,” Cinque said firmly.

• With the replacement of street signs throughout Marathon, City Hall’s Relay for Life team is selling the old street signs for $25 each to raise money for the annual event to benefit the American Cancer Society.


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