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Nostalgia Sprinkle: Flagler Beach Bans Mobile Vendors Except for Ice Cream Trucks

| September 27, 2013

Just like old times. (May 1942, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Just like old times. (May 1942, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

It was a very Flagler Beach sort of resolution to an issue that was not—judging from a dearth of problems associated with it—quite begging for its own ordinance, but got one anyway: Thursday evening, the Flagler Beach City Commission swirled Solomon with nostalgia in a 4-1 vote to ban all mobile vending in the city, except for trucks that sell pre-packaged ice cream.

The ice cream exception was written in largely to allow Sandy Kinney to continue operating the truck she’s operated in the city for years, to the delight of local residents—and even with the support of Sally’s Ice Cream, one of the city’s brick-and-mortar businesses. Kinney, drawing on broad popular support and emotional attachments to ice cream trucks, had twice mobilized opposition to similar prohibitions in the past 19 months, successfully so.

No vending at all will be allowed either on A1A or on State Road 100 at any point. But mobile vendors will be allowed at special events, in certain areas. Commissioners are willing to add further allowances or restrictions when the ordinance is submitted to them for a second and final reading, presumably in two weeks.

But the exception drew ridicule from Commissioner Jane Mealy, the lone dissenter and the driving force behind the ordinance in the past. When the ice cream exception was proposed, other vendors wondered why not an exception for them, promting mealy to imagine the future under those circumstances. “I think what we’re doing here is we’re creating a Sandy ordinance,” she said, “and then Doug wants to come up, then Scott Triplett’s going to come back with a hot dog thing and we’ll have a Scott Triplett ordinance and I think that’s ridiculous.”

But Commission Chairman Steve Settle said the ordinance had been brought forth with the understanding that it would start with a total prohibition, but not end there, giving commissioners room to create exceptions. (Mayor Linda Provencher noted that the commission as a whole agreed a month ago to take up the matter in the format the city attorney submitted this week.) Create exceptions is just what they did, soon after it became clear that a majority opposed the ordinance as originally written.

“To me this is taking away the ability to be an entrepreneur,” Commissioner Joy McGrew said, though she conceded that mobile vendors should be licensed, inspected and permitted—if not necessarily to the same level as sedentary businesses. The ice cream truck (or its ancestors), however, has always been in the streets going back decades, McGrew said, and it should continue to be allowed. “Then if we have a deluge of people wanting to sell stuff in our town, then let’s deal with it. It still got to come back to us,” we have that say so,” McGrew said. “But to carte-blanche say you can’t do anything, you can’t sell anything, that is not Flagler Beach.”

City Attorney Drew Smith supported that approach, at least in terms of trends: more cities are moving toward allowing vendors than prohibiting them, with regulations.

Linda Provencher. (© FlaglerLive)

Linda Provencher. (© FlaglerLive)

Provencher, the mayor—who doesn’t vote on measures before the commission but can veto them—said  historically the city had at times denied access to mobile ice cream or hot dog vendors under the false assumption that there was a prohibition against mobile vendors or franchises. Obviously, the city allows franchises, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Publix and other such businesses in town. But there is no ordinance that explicitly allows—or denies—mobile vendors. “So what we, you, need to do,” Provencher told commissioners, “if you don’t want to allow them, pass this ordinance. If you do want to allow them or put some restrictions so they’re not driving down A1A, put that. But it was always, always, everybody in this city, going way back when, thought those were the two things that weren’t allowed.” Provencher herself made her position clear: if mobile vendors are to be allowed, existing, sedentary businesses would have to be granted the right to operate without paying for a slew of regulatory permits and inspections, “because it’s not fair to make some businesses pay and others not pay.”

That was not the consensus of the eight or nine people who addressed the commission, Kinney among them. Speakers were largely critical of mobile-vending restrictions and supportive of ice cream trucks.

“One of my huge joys as a child,” Rick Belhumeur, a property owner in town, said, “was hearing an ice cream truck off in the distance, and trying to get some money out of my mother before it drove by. That’s a memory that always sticks with me, and any parent with a conscience couldn’t possibly ban ice cream trucks from the neighborhood.” He suggested keeping the trucks out of the downtown area delineated by the Community Redevelopment Agency’s boundaries.

Karen Barchowski, a Flagler Beach resident for nine years who owns Sally’s Ice Cream on A1A, at North 4th Street, with two partners, was there supporting Kinney. “I know I own an ice cream shop,”  Barchowski  said. “I do believe in free enterprise. We can’t stop it. You just can’t do it. We’re a small little town, I think we all need to be successful, I think we’re here to help each other be successful. I want her to be successful, I want to help her, we all need to help each other. Large government has forsaken us. We’re all we’ve got left. And I don’t mean to do it without regulation. I believe we need to regulate it.” Ironically, the new ordinance would crimp Barchowski’s ability to have so much as a cart to vend, say, hot dogs outside her business.


Nadine King had a pointed question for commissioners: had there been situations involving mobile trucks and right-of-way issues? Any complaints from citizens? Have police had to respond to issues involving mobile vendors? In every case, and over many years, there had been such issues, but only a small handful: nothing approaching a chronic problem, though Provencher mentioned another vendor—not Kinney—who’s not been operating safely on A1A or SR100, and underscored the need for more safety concerns.

Gretchen Smith, the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs director, was the final speaker on the matter. “It seems like saying no is not a good idea, and it seems like making an exception for one type of vendor may not be the greatest approach either,” Smith said. “Perhaps it doesn’t make sense tonight to say yes or no. And maybe a way of looking at it is to figure out what parameters matter, whether it’s putting people in specific locations or looking at the language and trying to find a middle ground that’s going to help small businesses in Flagler County. Some of them may be seasonal, some of them may be entrepreneurs, some of them may be second jobs, but let’s think about the small businesses that are trying to start up here and try to make something that accommodates them.”

“Our response to you would be been there, done that,” Settle said.

“Well,” Smith countered, “my point is that tonight saying no I think it’s a big mistake, and the language as it is, is a mistake.”

The commission nevertheless chose to move ahead with the language and the lone exception. Mealy, displeased that she’d been portrayed as anti-business or anti-entrepreneurship, explained why she’d dissent.

jane mealy flagler beach city commission

Jane Mealy (© FlaglerLive)

“I’m probably the commissioner who spends the most money at the small shops in this town,” mealy said, “and that’s not to argue with anybody else around here, but I shop in these shops, and I talk to the store owners, and if they really wanted to be honest, they would tell you they’re totally opposed to this. So Gretchen it’s not that I’m not in favor of small business. You know I’m the city’s representative to the chamber. I’m very supportive of the chamber. I tried to get a hold of somebody from the Flagler Beach affiliate to see if they had a position, and it seemed like they must have had a discussion but never came to any conclusion. So I don’t like it being said out there that Jane Mealy is not in favor of business or small business or anything like that. What I’m not in favor of is people roaming around in the streets, kids running out into the street I grew up in New York City. Yes, we had ice cream trucks, and kids got hit by cars. The population now Joy is a whole lot more in this town and a lot more traffic than when you lived here as a younger person, or other people who said they’ve lived here for a long time. Unfortunately Flagler Beach has changed. It’s not the town it was even 15 years ago. And I think we need to make some adjustments. I’m not going to vote to something—and Sandy, it’s not opposed to you at all. But as I started to say before, I was being slightly silly but that’s we were going, we were having a Sandy ordinance and a Scott Triplett ordinance and whatever, and that’s ridiculous. So I cannot vote for the exception.”

She added: “And please think about what you say about other people because of what you read on FlaglerLive. I was amazed.” (Mealy, who came under some withering criticism in the comment section below Thursday’s story on the issue, Friday morning spoke to FlaglerLive to clarify that her comments at the commission meeting were not in reference to the reporting, but to commenters.)

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20 Responses for “Nostalgia Sprinkle: Flagler Beach Bans Mobile Vendors Except for Ice Cream Trucks”

  1. K says:

    Karen Barchowski of Sally’s Ice Cream is a class act! Next time I’m craving ice cream she will get my business.

    • tom dooly (just hangin round) says:

      Just to let you know Linda. Publix is in Palm Coast city limits; from what i understand FB provide w/s. North of 100 (except Lambert; where it gets tricky; some of that is still county) is Palm Coast.South of 100 is FB.Gotta keep an eye on PC; they are like the blob; slowly creeping in; why do you think Bunnell is annexing? To keep PC from getting it.Franchises are not allowed in the city limits; (at least they weren’t at one time; unless that’s been changed?).Have a great day and enjoy the ice cream, I know i will.

      • Crusty Old Salt says:

        Linda is correct. Beach Village (Publix Shopping Center is in Flagler Beach City Limits) The apartments directly to the west are not.

        Cut and Paste from Flagler County Property Appraiser Website

        Exempt Amount Taxable Value
        See Below See Below
        Exemption Detail Millage Code Escrow Code
        NO EXEMPTIONS
        021
        Legal Description
        BEACH VILLAGE AT FLAGLER BEACH MB 36 PG 77 LOT 2 (8.976 AC) OR 1617/685 OR 1792/1030
        Ad Valorem Taxes
        Taxing Authority Rate Assessed Value Exemption Amount Taxable Value Amount
        FLAGLER COUNTY
        GENERAL FUND 7.0800 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $28,036.80
        2005 ESL BONDS 0.0847 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $335.41
        2005 OBLIGATION BOND 0.3320 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $1,314.72
        2009/2010 ESL BONDS 0.1653 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $654.59
        FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
        GENERAL FUND 5.4450 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $21,562.20
        DISCRETIONARY 0.9980 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $3,952.08
        CAP. OUTLAY 1.5000 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $5,940.00
        ST. JOHNS RIVER WATER MGMT 0.3313 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $1,311.95
        FIND 0.0345 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $136.62
        MOSQUITO CONTROL 0.2540 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $1,005.84
        CITY OF FLAGLER BEACH 5.1244 3,960,000 0 $3,960,000 $20,292.62

        Total Millage 21.3492 Total Taxes $84,542.83
        Non-Ad Valorem Assessments
        Code Levying Authority Amount
        Total Assessments $0.00
        Taxes & Assessments $84,542.83

      • THE VOICE OF REASON says:

        Publix IS in Flagler Beach. And if franchises are not allowed, FB would not have a Dollar General or a Shell station or a 7-Eleven. Heck, there wouldn’t even be a Bank of America.

  2. Leann says:

    I smell lawsuit from those who don’t fit into the “prepackaged” ice cream mobile vendor category. This bill shows what part time politicians Flagler Beach has….Palm Coast welcomes Food Trucks every third Tuesday of the month and profit large off of it. Flagler Beach needs to buy a clue and step into 2013.

  3. Charles Gardner says:

    Discrimination?

  4. Genie says:

    How about the vendors at the Farmer’s Market?

  5. Bunnell Resident says:

    Sounds like they will unintentionally ban their weekly farmer’s market.

  6. NOSTRADAMUS says:

    Just Wondering What Happens to The Hot Dog Vendor Along Side the Golden Lion Restaurant on A1A Now, He Has Been There Over a Year ??? If Anyone Knows Please Post a response!!!

  7. confidential says:

    If Mealy would really talk to “all the small business around town and county” she would not be so supportive of the Chamber. She does it because the FCCOC is a very convenient political tool to have on her side as an incumbent.
    When do we ever see any of the Chamber upper tier officials visiting/ contacting the small business about 700 to 800 members or any of the over 5,000 non members, except to sell them advertisement or their membership? Being us a member with little to non benefit, or appreciation for the many new comer referrals we sent them and gift donation contributions for over 15 years, in one of their meetings our membership seniority totally ignored in favor of a new comer home based operating competitor business representing an another of our county and state manufacturer as many such instances before….we decided to walk away along our local friendly competitors. We had it and was too much. Guest what… we been fine ever since.
    Still in business after the 2008 economic crisis, still providing jobs and generating revenue for the local economy in our store front, buying local insurance, phone, electricity, utilities and paying sales and other local taxes. Right now with Mr. Lusby pledge for the current FCCOC to become even more politically involved is when we are even more glad not to be in that club. FCCOC should take care of the commercial needs of their members not their choice at the ballot box. Maybe is a sign of desperation as their candidates of choice lost two in a row? I personally believe that if the FCCOC will really work for what is originally intended, that is the real benefit and promotion of all its members across the board other than partisan politics and also should give a way to new arriving business a 6 months or a year
    free try out membership sure…will gain the local business community confidence other than benefitting a tight small elite group, to the contrary of FCCOC fan Ms. Jane Mealy is trying now from her powerful city commissioner seat.

    • Gretchen Smith says:

      Dear confidential:
      Your post is a bit puzzling and I’d like to opportunity to speak with you to set the record straight. Since you’ve posted this without a name, let me give you my contact information with the hope I will hear from you soon.

      Gretchen Smith
      Government Affairs Director
      Flagler County Chamber
      437.0106

  8. Schottey says:

    Sounds like Jane Mealy needs some thicker skin. Go over to the original article from a few days ago. By-and-large, the comments aren’t personal, they’re attacking what people believe was a stupid idea. If you’re a politician (or any public figure) you have to be willing to be told that your ideas aren’t popular.

  9. flaglerresident says:

    Jane,

    If you read the comments then maybe you should take a hint, or listen to the feedback on your “silliness.” I don’t see your train of thought being on any rail heading for success of any small business regardless of what you spend in these small businesses in “your” community. This is everyone else’s community and just because you happen to hold elected office does not make it any more yours than ours. You honestly cannot say “your” commission, as a collective group, has been making sound decisions over the past year. Just thumb through the articles/headlines and I am sure there are not tons of positive coming from “your” decisions period! At least over the past 12 months anyway.

    So, go grab your piece of humble pie, or a cone of humble ice cream for this matter, and get back in line. There is this funny thing called the Bill of Rights attached to the United States Constitution (something that you cannot amend or mess up) which renders us, the readers, the right to make comments towards you and “your” poor performance as an elected official.

    This ordinance is a waste of paper. Lets codify something just because we can! This ordinance appears to regulate business for the people who will be operating at the local farmer’s market, which my family and I attend weekly. Next time you have any idea, write it down. Then write the exact opposite of your idea. Propose the exact opposite to the citizens. It will do you well in the future.

  10. beach goer says:

    Competition is what is best for the consumer-why take it away at all? I can remember as a kid there were trailers at the pier that would rent various beach items and life was good! Look at it now—nothing but shops, with not much variety and prices that aren’t competitive.

  11. Geezer says:

    Here we have people who want to earn an honest dollar the old fashioned way – by earning it.
    Here we have a clueless government obstructing them.

    Should they turn to crime instead, to pay their bills?

  12. yikes! says:

    It is good and legal for a small town such as Flagler Beach to pick the most appropriate vendors. This can easily be justified under preserving our local chsractrt and charm of which, I will add, Palm Coast has none. PC is anywhere USA, full of criminals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yikes-Last time I followed the arrest docket Flagler Beach had their share of arrests and may I remind you they have fewer people per capita than Palm Coast.

  13. SilverSurfer says:

    I don’t know why, but this article reminds me of a Cheech & Chong movie were they were selling pot out of a Good Humor Ice Cream truck. Ah, the Good old days !!!!

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    I simply cannot understand where the germ of this “get rid of mobile food vendors” came from, in the first place. Apparently there have not been a long list of complaints or people being rushed to the hospital for healthy and safety problems. Exactly what motivated the drafting of this new city code? What exactly are our city commissioners trying to accomplish. . . besides creating a culture that is in opposition to small businesses? I would urge our commissioners to rethink this nonsensical situation and repeal this biased ordinance, and move on to accomplishing something GOOD for our community!

  15. Everyone Knows Everything says:

    Anyone with the least bit of knowledge of the city know the Farmers Market isn’t owned by the city and is in fact on private property. Not on SR100 as the new ordinance reads.

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