Three or four food cart operators are seeking information on how to set up shop in New Canaan, prompting officials to examine longstanding local regulations.
None of the three or four vendors formally has applied for the required peddler's license, but if approved after making what is a fairly straightforward application, their presence would mark a change for the town.
“Most of them have wanted to do something like hot dog vending, which we have never had in town before,” Town Clerk Claudia Weber told Patch.
Any peddler or “itinerant vendor” is subject to regulations laid out in a 56-year-old section of the Town Code—Chapter 43, attached as a PDF.
Here’s what part of the language in that section says:
“No person shall make, place or erect in any highway any stand, wagon, cart or other vehicle or any structure for the sale or offering for sale of any goods, wares or merchandise or for the conduct of any business or selling, unless such person shall have obtained a license therefor as herein provided.”
The license is obtained from the Town Clerk, and for $25 is good for one year—a fee schedule that apparently hasn’t been updated since the regulation was adopted by the town in 1957.
Here’s some of what an individual needs to obtain a peddler’s license, according to the Town Code:
- $10 application fee
- “A letter from some reputable resident of the Town attesting to the good moral character of the applicant.”
The town in 2006 adopted regulations that prevent food vendors from setting up shop in town parks or on public school grounds.
What isn’t clear is just where a vendor—say, a hot dog man—would set up his cart.
Off-street parking in New Canaan is overseen by the Police Commission. Asked whether any special rules would apply to food carts, Commission Chairman Jim Cole said that, generally, anyone who adheres to parking rules for an individual spot is allowed to park there.
“I don’t know of any special rules for food vendors but I do know the rules for a parking spot,” Cole said. “If someone has taken up a parking spot whether they are selling food or not and have exceeded the time limit for that space, then they have to move the vehicle.”
Cole said food cart operators more likely would be targeting the longer-term spaces available in lots—say, the Morse Court lot—overseen by the Parking Bureau. Officials in the bureau could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to Weber, anyone seeking a peddler’s license to sell food also needs a permit issued by the local health department.
One noteworthy section in the relevant Town Code chapter says: “Licenses issued under this Article may be revoked at any time by the First Selectman of the town.”
Asked about the prospect of food carts in New Canaan, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said his immediate concern is for physical, tax-paying restaurants “that have so embraced our community and are employing many people.”
“I’m worried about what a proliferation of food carts could do to affect these established businesses,” he said.
The matter will be discussed Friday during a special Board of Selectmen meeting that’s posted on the town government calendar.