Mobile Food Vendor Law to Remain Unchanged in Butler
After receiving advice from borough attorney, health board does not vote to amend ordinance.
The Borough of Butler's mobile food vendor ordinance will remain as is after the issue was discussed by the Butler Board of Health and public at two meetings, including Wednesday when the decision was made.
The board had originally attempted to modify the ordinance to no longer allow mobile food vendors in Butler out of fear of some members that an unlimited number of mobile vendors could apply to do business in the borough, and some members' concerns about safety of patrons purchasing from mobile businesses. After a well-attended public meeting on April 11, the board decided to limit the number of mobile food vendors, which include ice cream trucks, hot dog stands and more, to five.
However, on Wednesday, Butler Councilman Sean McNear, liaision to the board, said he had corresponded with the borough attorney who said limiting the number of mobile vendors is outside the scope of the health board's abilities.
"I don't think it's determined yet if it's the town council or the zoning or planning board," he said.
McNear told the board that if they wished to continue to pursue limiting the number of mobile vendors, the attorney would have to determine which board has the power to make that decision.
The majority of concerned citizens on the issue are in support of Tom Frank, owner of Tommy's Franks, a mobile hot dog business frequently parked outside Trackside Bar & Grill. Frank said Wednesday he did not feel it was a coincidence that shortly after starting his business in March, which he did obtain proper licensing for according to borough officials, the health board discussed amending the ordinance.
The issue was brought to the board by Butler Board of Health President Sandra Alviene, wife of Mayor Bob Alviene, who said the mayor had contacted police about Tommy's Franks because he was unaware that Frank had obtained the proper permitting. The board president has also said that some health board members were concerned about how downtown Butler may appear if multiple vendors decided to set up shop on Main Street.
"We're not having Times Square in downtown by having (mobile) food vendors," resident Ken Montanye told the health board Wednesday.
Resident Sherry Bednarz-Mosier was mostly concerned about how the issue was brought to the health board by the president and said she felt it was a conflict of interest since the president's husband had lodged a complaint with police.
"This isn't a trial to hang the mayor," Sandra Alviene said.
Alviene said she has been on the health board for six years, including prior to her husband becoming mayor, and, in response to a comment that her presidency on the board is a conflict of interest in itself, she said she stepped up to serve as president when no other health board members wanted to.
But another health board member said regardless of how the issue came to the board, it was discussed in a proper manner without conflicts of interest.
"It was still brought forth and discussed in a fair manner," he said.
Health board members seemed to agree Wednesday that at this point, they do not have interest in further pursuing changes to the ordinance, which will continue to allow mobile food vendors in the Borough of Butler.