City of Marshall commissioners voted to table an ordinance which regulated mobile food establishments at its Thursday meeting, during which six community members spoke out on the issue.
“We have been begging for this regulation for about 30 years and we are glad to see it happen,” owner of Catfish Xpress Randy Cox said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “However, we are concerned about how this is going to affect the way we do business.”
A majority of concerns presented at the meeting addressed three aspects of the ordinance — a lack of specification that the law does not include private catering events, a concern over the stipulation that a vendor can not set up 100 feet from the property line of an open and operating food business without permission and a concern over time and location restrictions placed on the vendors.
However, all community members who spoke on the issue were in agreement that regulations did need to be put in place.
“We never wanted to take business away from anyone, we just want fair and thought out regulations,” said Chris Bisset, owner of Mega Bites Sliders Co.
Commissioner Doug Lewis suggested three amendments be made to the ordinance — that the 100-foot rule be changed to 50, that a specific exemption to catering events be written in and that the hours of operation in a fixed location be changed from eight to 10.
Commissioner Amy Ware also suggested wording be changed to reflect that the mobile food vendors only need permission from businesses to operate within 100 feet of their location during their business hours.
Planning and Development Director Wes Morrison said that he was interested in taking another look at the ordinance to address public concerns.
“It was not our intention to confuse the public or to rule out mobile food vendors,” Morrison said.
Along with the tabling of the ordinance, the commissioners voted to ratify the tax rate, which would remain the same at $0.542160 for the next fiscal year.
A number of community members also attended the meeting to address the commissioners about the city’s annual budget.
Concerns mainly addressed the tightness of the budget and the amount of funds being allocated to the animal shelter.
“I do not refute the comments made about the budget being tight,” said City Manager Mark Rohr, “It is a tight budget. But it does reflect our Mobilize Marshall plan that we have put a lot of effort into incorporating.”
The second reading of the budget was approved by five yes votes, with commissioner Vernia Calhoun abstaining.
An amendment to the official zoning map requesting the property at 805 West Burleson St. be rezoned as a duplex, rather than a single family residence, was denied by the city.
Calhoun said the location was within her district, and that the property had already been an issue, describing it as an “eye sore” on the street.
Community members also signed a petition against the rezoning amendment.
“With the track record of this property not being zoned properly, any commission would not vote for it,” said Commissioner Larry Hurta. “I think there is a place for properties like this, but not this one.”
The city also approved the purchase of a replacement air conditioner for the Convention Center Theater at a cost of $58,715.
Two contracts regarding safety concerns at the Memorial City Hall renovations project were also approved, including a contract with Stiles Electric Inc. for dumbwaiter repairs at $7,890 and a contract with Casey Slone Construction to raise the height of Juliet balcony railings for $2,600.
The city will host it’s next meeting Sept. 26.