Public hearings on deck for proposed temporary vendor ordinance

GEORGETOWN – Public hearings are next for a proposed Sussex County ordinance amendment designed to streamline the permitting process for seasonal food cart/produce vendors in specific zoning areas of the County.

The proposal was formally introduced at County Council’s April 13 meeting, paving the way for required public hearings before the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission and County Council.

COUNTY COUNCIL

It is expected to soon be on the Planning and Zoning docket, County Administrator Todd Lawson said.

As the proposed, the amendment would allow seasonal produce and food-related vendors meeting certain requirements to seek over-the-counter approval to set up shop in general commercial (C-1), commercial residential (CR-1) as well as neighborhood business districts (B-1), which Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View) suggested at County Council’s March 31 meeting.

The ordinance does not affect typical farm markets, produce stands or roadside stands selling farm/agricultural goods legally on agricultural/residential property.

The intent of the ordinance is to streamline the process so that a temporary, removable vendor could go through a simple permitting process “in lieu of what is currently required, which is the conditional use process,” said Mr. Lawson.

That conditional use process through the County Board of Adjustment and County Council can take upward of six to eight months, County Planning and Zoning Director Lawrence Lank. And in some cases it can be longer.

Under the proposal, conditional use would come into play via a “kick-out” clause if criteria in the ordinance are not met in the eyes of the County Planning and Zoning Director. The applicant would have to obtain a special use permit through the Board of Adjustment.

Requirements in the proposed ordinance include:

  • No temporary removable vendor stand shall be permanently affixed to the premises. All temporary removable vendor stands shall be fully transportable and moveable within twenty four hours;
  • No more than one temporary removable vendor stand on a parcel at any one time;
  • Removable vendor stand limited to no more than 8 feet 6 inches in width nor longer than 45 feet;
  • Temporary removable vendor stand cannot be permanently connected to any utilities, including water, sewer, electric or gas;
  • Vendor stand cannot interfere with vehicular or pedestrian movement on a parcel or adjacent rights of way;
  • Owner of a proposed temporary removable must present the Director of Planning and Zoning with written approval of the existence and location of the stand by the property owner, and (ii) a drawing showing the location of the stand upon the property. Upon presentation of this information, the Director may preliminarily approve the stand or require the owner to apply for a special use exception from the Board of Adjustment if there are concerns about location, the size of the property, effects upon on-site parking, neighboring properties or roadways, or other good cause.
  • With preliminarily approval, the owner of a proposed temporary removable stand must present evidence of a current State of Delaware business license to the Director of Planning and Zoning;
  • Upon approval by the Director, a “Sussex County Vendor Stand” sticker will be issued; the sticker must be visible on the stand at all times.

At its previous meeting March 31, Council discussed how outdoor seating/tables and restroom/washing station facilities might factor into the ordinance equation.

That discussion surfaced again April 13, spurring County Council President Michael Vincent to suggest that those issues could be aired during the public hearing process.

“The idea I think was to make this a smoother, faster process …,” said Mr. Vincent.

There could be a nominal fee to cover cost of stickers. Then again, there might not be any.

“We’re sort of trying to figure out internally to then recommend to the Council as they go through the public hearing process,” Mr. Lawson said. “Sort of the framework of the recommendation right now is going to be a nominal fee if any. Maybe pick a number and that will help cover the cost of the stickers themselves.

“The whole idea is to make it streamlined, make it convenient – not to be a burden,” Mr. Lawson said. “Even a minimal fee is sort of going against that mission. But at the same we want to cover the cost of whatever it’s going to be.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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