Update for October 30, 2014
Council tables peddler, vendor permits
By William Hoover
Hondo City Council on Monday discussed revising the rules for issuing permits to peddler and vendors seeking permits to sell and conduct business in the city. The proposed ordinance revision included eliminating yearlong permits and establishing permits for varying periods, as well as prohibiting vendors from setting up shop along US 90.
“We did have a one-year permit and now we have a 30-, 60- or 90-day permit with different cost figures,” Mayor Jim Danner told council of the permits with respective $50, $75 and $100 fees. “It probably will deter people from staying at one spot too long with those costs.”
“I notice this says nobody can have a permit to set up anything on Highway 90,” he added.
“Correct,” said City Attorney William “Mick” McKamie, who revised the ordinance. “That is a state highway and they have separate rules.”
“That means you can’t set up at the library or Wal-Mart or different places along Highway 90,” said Danner.
“Within a certain distance off Highway 90 or is it just places fronting the highway?” asked Place 1 Councilman John McAnelly about the state jurisdiction.
“It is broad enough to give the state control of anything around the state highway,” said McKamie.
McAnelly asked if the changes would affect property owners along US 90 who wanted to allow vendors to use their property.
“Yes, it can,” said McKamie. “We are attempting to address all areas within the city where we have legal authority, but there are state rules about state highways that apply, whether we have an ordinance or not.”
Place 3 Councilman Eric Torres asked if the changes would, for example, affect people engaged in civic fundraisers at the Shell gas station on Ave. M.
“Yes,” said McKamie. “They have to have the owner’s permission and they would need a permit to have a special event or any type of displays.”
“But if it’s on Highway 90, they can’t do it,” noted Place 2 Councilman Sammy Nooner.
“We don’t really regulate on Highway 90, that is up to the state,” said McKamie.
Mayor Danner asked if it has always been a violation of the city ordinance to allow vendors to make sales along US 90.
“There are state regulations that basically do the same thing this ordinance does,” confirmed McKamie.
“So if they go through the state and obtain a permit, they are okay?” asked City Manager Jeff Litchfield.
McKamie noted Section 4.04.008 of the ordinance states, “It is unlawful to engage in a business on any state highway within the city or for any mobile food vehicle to park on any state highway within the city.”
“We do make that unlawful in our ordinance,” he said. “However, they can have different dispensations from the state.”
“Why has that never been enforced before,” asked Nooner. “I’ve had people set up at my place and they go get the permit from the city, but not the state.”
McKamie said the state does not issue vendor permits, they just have specified areas where activities are prohibited.
“If it is in one of the areas (where) the state prohibits activities, it would be illegal,” he said. “Whether the state enforces it or not is up to them.”
“I’ve never seen or heard of the state enforcing anything here in the city,” said Torres.
McAnelly noted the ordinance’s next section, 4.04.009 provides for exemptions from the US 90 exclusion for community and special events approved by city council or the appropriate body.
“Correct, if they have a special event permit,” explained McKamie.
Mayor Danner asked if council could eliminate section 4.04.008 and leave 4.04.009 in and just have the city regulate special events along US 90 itself.
“You could do that,” said McKamie. “This ordinance was adapted from one we developed for the City of Boerne and tailored for Hondo. There is some flexibility, of course, and that is up to council.”
“In my mind, that potentially puts us in conflict of state law,” said McAnelly of eliminating section 4.04.008.
“Council may disagree with me, but I think that dogs are something we don’t need to have being sold off Highway 90 all the time,” said Danner. “But, if the Lion’s Club wants to get out there to sell chicken dinners then it is an event helping the community – that is when we would issue the special events permits. Christmas in God’s Country is another one.”
“The permits we’ve issued off Highway 90 between Avenues K and M for that vacant lot facing the highway – we probably should not have issued those,” said Litchfield.
“That particular site is one of the reasons we came up with this agenda item,” said Danner. “That function harmed some local merchants.”
“I think it would be prudent to talk to (TxDOT) in this area about what their policies are,” suggested McKamie.
To comply with the 1st Amendment rules, McKamie noted the city does not require permits for newspaper carriers or religious groups, political speech or canvassers.
“Everybody else who is attempting to provide any type of commercial service, including food service, needs to come get a permit,” said the attorney.
Danner suggested council table the item on the peddlers and vendors permit and asked council members to further review the ordinance for potential conflicts.
“Please take the time between now and next meeting to study this to see if anything else bothers you,” he said.
“We also need to ask if the public has any input they would like to give,” said Nooner.
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