City food vendor proposals introduced to council

Marietta City Council introduced a pair of ordinances Thursday during its regular meeting that might allow mobile food vendors to set up shop in Marietta parks and on downtown sidewalks as early as the Fourth of July.

The first ordinance would repeal current city code section 722 which states “No person shall on any…publicly owned property, solicit the sale of any merchandise, wares, goods, foods, periodicals or other articles of value for present or future delivery.”

The second part of the law would replace section 722 with language that allows vendors to obtain a weekly, monthly or yearly license to operate in four city parks and allows current business owners to sell food and beverages on the sidewalk adjacent to their business.

Area vendor Elisha Tornes, who owns a mobile sno cone business, has been pushing for the change for more than a year, and thanked council for moving forward with the issue.

“Please consider suspending the three readings so the law can go into effect as soon as possible,” Tornes urged.

However, Marietta City Police Chief Brett McKitrick asked council to hold all three readings to allow city department heads the chance to review the proposed changes and make suggestions.

Council split the difference, suspending the second reading of the ordinances but not the third.

“This gives the community two weeks for comment and allows us to get it passed possibly July 3,” noted councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st ward.

Brought up during Tuesday’s meeting of council’s planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee and echoed by McKitrick before Thursday’s meeting was the concern over whether the city could allow those with state liquor permits to sell alcohol on their adjacent sidewalks.

City sidewalks were the subject of another piece of legislation introduced Thursday.

The ordinance would repeal and replace a city law that prohibits downtown merchants from placing goods or other objects on the sidewalk space adjacent to their stores.

The law became the subject of controversy recently when two area businesses were issued minor misdemeanor citations for placing tables and chairs on the sidewalk without obtaining a permit.

The five-year permits cost $150 for the first year, and $1 for each of the remaining four years.

However, language requiring a permit is nowhere in the current Codified Ordinances of Marietta, said Marietta Law Director Paul Bertram III. Rather the Ohio Revised Code allows the city to charge the fee.

With the exception of those wishing to have alcohol on their adjacent sidewalks, the new law would mean merchants will no longer need to obtain a permit to set up tables, chairs, signage, merchandise and other objects on their sidewalks. The one restriction is that sidewalks must retain a traversable width of 36-inches throughout.

Bertram said two businesses recently paid the $154 permit fee and at least one of those businesses-The Pizza Place-will have that fee returned. The other business, Austyn’s Restaurant, serves liquor, and whether their permit fee is returned will depend on what happens with the portion of section 722 that addresses those sales.