Council backs off on limiting street vendors 

ELLSWORTH — Council members approved amendments to three city ordinances and tabled changes to street vendor permit rules at their Dec. 21 meeting.

The changes proposed to the License and Permits Ordinance would raise the permit fee for street vendors selling food and other merchandise on public property from a $10 flat fee to $110 for 30 consecutive or non-consecutive days, but the discussion raised concerns among councilors.

“That could cover Girl Scout cookie [sales],” Councilor Michelle Kaplan said, along with door-to-door sales. “What about the Snap-on Tool guy? The Schwan’s [Home Delivery] guy?”

And Chairman Dale Hamilton pointed out, “This doesn’t distinguish between when someone sold for one Saturday versus the entire summer. One day is less impactful than somebody who’s going to do it every single weekday.”

Interim City Manager Glenn Moshier said the change would protect taxpaying businesses from potential revenue being taken by outside vendors.

“The goal is to reward our local businesses who are here and pay taxes,” Moshier said.

The issue will be revisited “at some future date,” Hamilton said.

Approved amendments to the Personnel Ordinance mean it now aligns with new state requirements for paid time off for organizations with more than 10 employees. Employees will now be granted annual paid time off at the start of the year instead of earning the PTO throughout.

“We have no choice, do we?” Councilor Marc Blanchette asked. “No,” replied City Clerk Heidi Grindle. 

Revised language in the Fire Protection and Prevention Ordinance was also quickly and unanimously approved after Chief Richard Tupper said the changes alleviate confusion from unclear language and will maintain consistency.

Amendments to the Noise Ordinance were approved 4-1, with Councilor Gene Lyons giving the “no” vote. The changes mean a police officer may use a sound meter to determine if noise levels are above the permitted level of 90 decibels for a period of 30 minutes. 

But Lyons was not on board.

“On several occasions I’ve worked overnight hauling concrete to Hannaford’s and Shaw’s to do repairs,” he said. “All winter long, logging companies try to get something done…during the evening hours and the early morning hours. [The ordinance] would put a stop to that. I can’t support something like that.”

Code Enforcement Officer Dwight Tilton explained the section of the ordinance is “really to address” neighborhood noise complaints rather than commercial or industrial noise, noting that the change arose from complaints over live music at a local business.

“I kept trying to go over and address the situation and work with the two parties,” Tilton said. “The only way I could do it was to use the sound meter.” Then, the business owner got “upset” because the ordinance didn’t allow use of a sound meter. The proposed amendment would enable officers to use the sound meter at their discretion, giving them “a definitive way to measure how loud the sound is,” he concluded.

In other council business, councilors:

  • Noted Fire Chief Richard Tupper’s retirement and Capt. Richard Fortier’s 45 years of service.
  • Appointed Patrick Downey to the Harbor Commission through June 30, 2023.
  • Granted city arcade and victual license renewals and a state liquor license renewal to Finelli’s Pizzeria and renewed a city lodging license for the Comfort Inn.
  • Authorized up to $25,000 in repairs to a city plow truck.
  • Renewed a Franklin Street parking lease agreement with the United Methodist Church for $1 per year through Dec. 31, 2025.
  • Tabled a request to purchase a 60-kilowatt generator for the Union River Center for Innovation.
Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]