Mobile vendors like hot dog and ice cream trucks will remain—on a limited basis—on Butler streets.
After a heated audience urged the on Wednesday night to reconsider in the borough, the board agreed to an amended ordinance that will limit the food vendors to five.
The ordinance will be introduced at the board's April 25 meeting.
The issue drew interest mostly from a mobile hot dog stand parked outside on Main Street. Tom Frank, the owner of the business and a native, said he obtained all the proper permitting for his business and that he saw the board's actions as personally against him. Borough Clerk Mary O'Keefe confirmed that Frank did apply for and receive the permit in the proper manner.
Tara Yodice, a Butler resident, read aloud a police report that was taken after visited Tommy's Franks to check on his credentials. According to the report Yodice read, police responded after Butler Mayor Bob Alviene allegedly expressed concern that Frank was operating the business without proper permits.
Alviene's wife, Sandra, who serves as the Board of Health's president, said she brought the issue before the board and that the reasoning behind it included . Residents in attendance at the meeting seemed to disagree with the president's comments that Butler's appearance has improved in the past several years.
"I have been in Butler 63 years and it does look much better," she said.
Alviene noted other reasons the board took the amendment under consideration, including two-hour parking limits downtown and competing businesses with existing storefronts already selling hot dogs, of which she said there are five downtown. She asked Frank directly why he chose to have his business in Butler.
"Butler is probably one of the only towns that has a Main Street," he said.
But resident Ken Montanye said Butler's Main Street is not one residents and business owners should be proud of and said the street is in "deplorable, despicable condition" due to the number of vacancies.
"For any one to say that you're proud of Butler? You've got to be kidding me," he said.
Montanye, and several other residents in attendance, said that it was unfair that Alviene was able to vote on the issue because of her husband's mayoral position and called for her to recuse herself from voting on the issue. Alviene said she was being personally attacked and had the right to vote on the topic.
The special meeting needed to be held for the Board of Health to vote again on the amendment because their initial vote was not solidified in writing, O'Keefe said. Unlike most government meetings, the board engaged in dialogue back and forth with the residents who were concerned about the issue.
While most who spoke were concerned about Tommy's Franks, others expressed concern over the borough not allowing ice cream trucks and said they felt the residents deserved to have them and that children enjoy the ice cream vendors.
Eighteen-year-old Amy Verdonik, the daughter of Councilman Ray Verdonik and a senior, spoke in favor of Tommy's Franks and described a recent day when her and her father got a hot dog and walked to Butler Park to sit on a bench and enjoy the meal.
"I've never seen a hot dog truck around town and when I saw one the other day, I was ecstatic," she said.
While the board was in closed session, Verdonik said she was telling her friends from high school about the issue and that they were all upset that the hot dog vendor would not be allowed to do business in Butler if the amendment went through.
"This just angers me," she said.
Verdonik said the hot dog stand and ice cream trucks are all part of "childhood memories" that she and her friends would like to hold on to once they leave the borough for college.
"I want to be able to come back here and know it's the same place I left," she said.
Amkit Kakkad, owner of Butler Dollar & Party, said Tommy's Franks has actually helped his business, as the people who frequent the hot dog stand often stop in his store for a beverage or sweet treat after.
"I'm getting more traffic," he said. "After lunch, people come in to buy a Snapple."
More important than the items patrons are purchasing, Kakkad said the hot dog stand has brought awareness to downtown Butler.
"It's bringing more awareness, more people to Main Street that wouldn't have come," he said.
After the meeting, Frank said he is pleased that the board has reconsidered the amendment, but that he wants to make sure he is included in the five allowed licenses in the borough.