Trustees agree to continue allowing mobile vendors ‘at’ Fickel Park

Trustees agree to continue allowing mobile vendors, but see need to clarify ordinance

By May Soricelli
The Surveyor

Kieth Hancock, owner of Poppin' Kettle Drum, will be allowed to vend his kettle corn curbside at Fickel Park, but not inside the park's boundaries.  May Soricelli/ the Surveyor

Kieth Hancock, owner of Poppin’ Kettle Drum, will be allowed to vend his kettle corn curbside at Fickel Park, but not inside the park’s boundaries.
May Soricelli/ the Surveyor

The Berthoud Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to allow a vendor to continue doing business at Fickel Park, despite a recent rift between the vendor and town regarding the business setting up in the park.

Trustees directed town staff to clarify Ordinance 1161, regarding food truck vendor licenses, to be clearer about the location where food trucks can vend their products.

“I’m in favor of promoting these types of businesses to encourage community involvement,” said Trustee Paul Alaback.

The dispute regarded ambiguous wording in the permit and Town Ordinance 1161. The permit only states a location as “Fickel Park,” where Poppin’ Kettle Corn proprietor, Keith Hancock, could set up his food stand. The confusion came because Hancock interpreted the permit to allow him to set up within the park’s boundary, as he had done at last year’s farmers’ market. But according to ordinance 1161, food trucks, which his business is considered, are allowed to vend curbside, not within the park’s boundaries.

The town clarified that the original permit given to Hancock was for a food cart or truck on the street. Hancock’s operation eventually migrated to the grass with a table, then to a tent, and he later began cooking the kettle corn on site.

When Hancock moved his operation to within the park’s boundary, others wanting to set up booths in the park contacted the town for permits, according to Town Clerk Mary Cowdin.

According to Parks and Recreation director, Jeremy Olinger, other issues arose because Hancock set up in the park, including conflicts with maintenance schedules such as fertilizing, mowing and weeding. He said that regular vending conflicts with these necessities, as well as burdening other weekend events that have been licensed the space. Olinger also said that parking can be a bit of an issue as well; noting that people quickly pull off Mountain Avenue or park in front of businesses and residences, where there is limited space.

Hancock began vending his kettle corn in the fall of 2013 with a vending permit from the Town of Berthoud, and in January was granted a new permit for 2014. His stand has been up nearly every Thursday and Saturday thus far this year.

In April, Hancock was contacted by town administration informing him that he could no longer set up his kettle corn stand in Fickel Park because of the conflicts with the park’s maintenance and parking. Hancock stated that he had felt a great deal of confusion and frustration as to why he was granted the 2014 permit and was then told that his kettle corn stand can no longer be on town property.

On May 22, Hancock was asked to move from the park by a Larimer County Sheriff’s deputy who said he was violating the town ordinance.

Mayor David Gregg said that the whole issue was a misunderstanding.

“[The vendor permit] was originally issued for a food truck; if it had stayed on the street we probably would not have this issue,” said Gregg.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hancock said that he was willing to go back to his original set-up, using his trailer and vending curbside, if the trustees agreed to continue allowing vendors at the park.

Ultimately, the trustees agreed that mobile vendors are important to the town because of the permit and sales tax revenue for the town; they encourage community involvement in town, and promote small business.

Trustee Michael Henning stated that the town should focus on encouraging economic development even with these small “activities.” But, he said that he believes the issues of maintenance, wear, and parking would be solved if vending remained on the street and not in the park.

“I don’t think we need to change 1161,” he said,

Trustee Chris Buckridge agreed that the ordinance didn’t need to be amended, but said that clarification is needed because of the misunderstanding of what “at” Fickel Park means. The board directed staff to clarify the ordinance to more clearly state where food truck vendors can set up.

Gregg also suggested that the town partner with the Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce to pick one night per week to allow four to five vendors in the park for a “Thursday night out” sort of event to promote these mobile Berthoud businesses.

Trustee Alaback agreed, saying, “This community really wants some kind of activity like that more regularly.”