Selectmen defend rules on peddlers


freds_franks2014As expected, at their June 23 meeting the Board of Selectmen addressed at length the latest controversy over local peddlers, including Fred’s Franks, the hotdog vendor that had until recently occupied a spot at the head of the Lake.

Several Board members indicated that they had been receiving phone calls and emails from local residents on the peddler issue. One resident, Janet Filoramo, spoke during the public participation portion of last night’s meeting and asked the board to explain why the regulations were changed last year to require the peddlers to move 100 feet every two hours.

tom_mullenTown Counsel Thomas Mullen took the first crack at answering Filoramo’s question. He said that there was a simply a desire “to enforce statutes which have been on the books for decades.” He pointed to the legal definition of hawkers and peddlers as “people who sell moving from place to place or from town to town.”

“Just what that means is undefined in the statute,” Mullen said, “but it certainly can’t mean that you set up shop in one place and you stay there always. That’s inconsistent with the very concept.”

He said that the language that a peddler must move at least 100 feet every two hours “was an attempt to give meaning to that vague statutory term.”

Mullen further noted that the part of the public way that hawkers and peddlers are allowed to be on is the sidewalk, as long as they move from place to place and do not obstruct pedestrians.

“If you’re not on a public way,” Mullen said, “you’re on a lot owned by somebody. I don’t think there is any lot in town where it is not a zoning violation to set up a peddler’s cart, at least not without a special permit. So it’s a zoning violation, and beyond that it’s a trespass unless you have the affirmative assent of the lot owner, who probably doesn’t have the zoning right to assent.”

betsy_sheeranSelectman Betsy Sheeran said that she also wanted to dispel certain misinformation and factually incorrect comments being made on Facebook, including allegations of a “vendetta” against one vendor.

“The bylaw was always there,” Sheeran said. “It just wasn’t enforced.” She pointed out that the peddlers were told in person at a public meeting months ahead of time that the updated regulations were going to be enforced starting Jan. 1, 2014, requiring all peddlers to move at least every two hours.

Sheeran also addressed the claim that the spot Fred’s Franks was operating on was state land. She noted that the owner of Fred’s Franks was notified by the state in October of 2012 that he was trespassing. He was also notified by Wakefield Town Counsel Mullen that he was to remove himself from an adjacent piece of town property, Sheeran noted.

“There has been no permission given to use that property,” Sheeran said.

Since Fred’s Franks is licensed out of North Reading, Sheeran added, it is unclear whether any meals taxes that he pays actually come to the town of Wakefield. Through the first three quarters of FY 2014, Sheeran said, local restaurants had paid $245,000 in meals taxes to the town of Wakefield. Brick and mortar restaurants also pay to the town property taxes, licensing fees, water and sewer fees and electric bills, Sheeran added.

Sheeran encouraged the owner of Fred’s Franks to work with the town instead of ignoring the town and the state.

Steve_Maio_hs2Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio reported that in fact Carl Galasso, the owner of Fred’s Franks, had come to his office unannounced just yesterday.

“I said to him, ‘You really aren’t a peddler,’” Maio told the board. Maio said that he urged Galasso to work with the town and perhaps a location could be found with some sort of structure and picnic tables. But he advised Galasso that that would still involve dealing with permitting and zoning, just as every other business in town does.

“I think this can work into a success story,” Maio said.

Sheeran maintained that for every person who is upset about recent developments with Fred’s Franks, there are people “who don’t think it’s quaint and don’t think it should be there. Some are more vocal, some aren’t.”

Selectman Ann Santos agreed with Sheeran, saying that she too has heard from people who have lived in Wakefield their whole lives who were not happy with Fred’s Franks but based on the tone on Facebook they are reluctant to share their opinions there. She echoed Maio’s comment that Galasso should try working with the town in a constructive manner.

pat_glynnSelectman Patrick Glynn pointed out that if the town allowed Fred’s Frank’s set up shop on a piece of public land on a permanent basis it would be hypocritical if they then denied other vendors the right to do the same all along the Lake.

“He’s been given break after break after break,” Glynn said.

[This story originally appeared in the June 24, 2014 Wakefield Daily Item.]

21 Responses to “Selectmen defend rules on peddlers”

  1. whom

    initially called it out about Fred[s Franks in the first place? Glad I am leaving this town , state and country for good real soon!

  2. 2 Resident Jqp

    I would be nice to have selectmen that support local businesses. And ones that don’t try to override the will of the people so consistently.

  3. 3 Disgusted

    You’re a bastard, Sardella. Shame on you.

    • 4 Mark Sardella

      I’m a bastard? For reporting the news? Did you read the part where he was trespassing and in violation of the Zoning Bylaw?
      By the way, since you know my name, would you care to share your name? Somehow I doubt you will.

  4. 5 Liam

    This municipal action is giving the Town of Wakefield a very big black eye. Word is spreading. Town government should be more aware that, however right they might believe they are on the points of local law, they should be taking more of the active onus to make a solution happen now. Right now, however, they look more like French bureaucrats.

    • 6 Mark Sardella

      Sounds ominous. I find it interesting that those convinced that this gives Wakefield a “black eye,” conveniently forget that for nearly a decade Wakefield looked the other way and gave Fred’s Franks every benefit of every doubt. Now all that is forgotten and suddenly Wakefield is the bad guy for finally asking him to do what any peddler is supposed to do – move once in a while. In most towns, Fred’s wouldn’t have lasted this long – that’s why he stayed in Wakefield, where he was left alone. He’s not even a peddler. He was operating a stationary take-out restaurant under a peddler’s license.
      I’m not buying the “word is spreading” angle. In fact, I think most people wonder why it took the town so long to act. Those people just happen to be less vocally inclined than those seeking to turn Fred’s Franks into some kind of folk hero.

      • 7 Kate

        A cart on wheels that is pulled by the back of a truck and moved from Wakefield to elsewhere every day is no more “stationary” than the Richies Slush stand. As for Wakefield “looking the other way”, then this sounds like their own fault for “selectively” applying the “rule if the law”. If the town enforced the rules straight away this would be an absolute non-issue today and the town could get back to focusing on important matters. I’m not sure who on the Board of Selectman decided to tippy toe around Fred’s Franks in fear of applying the law when necessary all these years, but seems to me they made their own bed. Unless of course some personal interest was involved, but who’s to say? Hmm

  5. 8 Kate

    Does anyone else think this is ridiculous? The man is selling hot dogs two hours a day and this is what the town of Wakefield is concerned with. How about the absolute disrepair of town center, with businesses closing left and right, buildings showing no upkeep, empty store fronts and the only new occupants looking to set up shop seem to be hair and nail salons. Our town center does nothing to draw in merchants or patrons. It’s a disgrace, but let’s worry about some hot dog stand, because that’s what is really hurting the town. Give me a break.

    • 9 Mark Sardella

      First, your facts are wrong. He wasn’t just “selling hot dogs two hours a day.” He was there all day, every day, for years. Second, a question for you: Do you believe in the rule of law? Or do you think that the laws should be applied selectively?

  6. 10 Kate

    Having been there last week, the owner stated “I am here two hours a day”, therefore, no, my facts are not wrong. The same was probably true as of the time you posted your article, since the post points out the law was changed last year requiring movement every 2 hours. What he did years ago is irrelevant to me. At the present time, my opinion stands. As a tax paying homeowner, I would like to see those dollars and the towns energy and time go into efforts to revitalize our now run down town center, rather than pouring over the minutia of laws surrounding hot dog stands. The center could be a huge draw for merchants, patrons and income for the town to keep it flourishing especially with the beautiful lake drawing people in, but our town center at present is giving them so few reasons to stay. Yes, Mark, everyone should follow the rules/law, (insert eye roll), but I see no difference from the slush stand that has sat in the same spot for years or the other vendor selling waters and hot dogs on the North ave side. I could ask you and even the town, for that matter, the same question; shouldn’t the slush stand be required to move and not be there longer than 2 hours, since the law should not be applied selectively? I know on a hot summer Saturday that stand does not pack up after 2 hours, nor have I ever seen it move from that one spot day after day. Again, speaking presently, based on him being there 2 hours a day, spend my thousands of tax dollars a year, the time and energy to really do something for this town rather than worrying about the hot dog rules.

    • 11 Mark Sardella

      Wakefield Police Lt. Scott Reboulet said on Oct. 28 that the hot dog stand owner was at his regular spot for four hours, so yes, your facts are wrong – unless you’re saying Lt. Reboulet is lying. In this case, I’m inclined to believe the police over someone with a long habit of breaking the same law that he denies breaking now. Good to know that you don’t believe in the rule of law, or at least you seem to want it applied selectively. As Town Counsel Tom Mullen has pointed out, the legal definition of a hawker or peddler is one who moves about in the course of doing business. If Fred’s Franks is unable to move as described in the law, then he is not a hawker or peddler and is operating falsely under a Hawker’s and Peddler’s License. Also, I have been told by people who checked that the Slush Cart was at least making an effort to comply with the law. If they weren’t, they should be cited too. I love how you guys accuse people who just want the law enforced of being biased against Fred’s. But you can’t wait to rat out the slush lady.

      • 12 Kate

        Lol. I suppose this blog isn’t for open discussion but solely for approval of the authors own points. I didn’t acuse anyone of being biased. I’m simply drawing attention to the double standard against vendors, as well as the towns own decisions to selectively apply the law, as you mentioned yourself they “looked the other way” for years. I’m not sure what part of my response suggested to you that I want to apply the law selectively, especially since I clearly said no to that question and therefore brought up the point of other vendors around the lake acting in the same manner as Freds.

        Who said anything bad about the slush lady? “Talking to people who checked with the slush cart” makes it no more fact than my believing the owner of the hot dog carts statement as fact, if you really want to go there. If the hot dog cart must follow the rules then so should all other lakeside vendors. That’s all, Mark. Take a chill pill.

        THE POINT is and has been that I would prefer Wakefields resources to be spent on something more beneficial to the towns growth and development, not because I am in defense of hotdogs stands. It could very well be an article about the slush cart and I would have the same exact opinion. You seem to be consistently missing my clearly written point on this and solely want to focus on how “you guys” all believe the town and yourself are against Freds Franks. It’s sort of comical…..yet weird at the same time.

      • 13 Kate

        Also noted above, but relevant to this as well…… for Wakefield “looking the other way”, then this sounds like their own fault for “selectively” applying the “rule of the law”. If the town enforced the rules straight away this would be an absolute non-issue today and the town could get back to focusing on important matters. I’m not sure who on the Board of Selectman decided to tippy toe around Fred’s Franks in fear of applying the law when necessary all these years, but seems to me they made their own bed. You can’t have it both ways. Unless of course some personal interest was involved, but who’s to say? Hmm”

  7. 14 Mark Sardella

    “This blog isn’t for open discussion??” I thought that was what we were doing. Or am I not allowed to defend my position? By “selective enforcement” of laws, I was referring to your (and other people’s) expressed preference that the town not enforce its own bylaws regarding vendors. That is your position, correct – that the town should ignore its own bylaws and leave the vendors alone? Yet, I’m fairly certain that there are other laws that you are in favor of enforcing. That’s what I mean by selective enforcement. You may have difficulty following that, and thus find it “weird.” If you would “prefer Wakefields resources to be spent on something more beneficial to the towns growth and development,” I would suggest you do the hard work of changing the bylaw. Good luck with that.

    • 15 Mark Sardella

      The town attempted to enforce the bylaw in the past and had made it abundantly clear that they were unhappy with several of the vendors who set up and occupied the same spot, all day, every day in defiance of the decades-old bylaw provision that clearly states “No vendor has a right to a specific location.” The intent of the bylaw was also clear in its definition of a hawker/peddler as “anyone who sells merchandise by going either from town to town or from place to place in the same town, either on foot or from any animal or vehicle.” But because the language of the bylaw did not specify how often the vendors had to move, and because certain vendors refused to move at all, the selectmen amended the bylaw (as is their legal right) by inserting the requirement that the vendors must more at least 100 feet every two hours. So you could say that the vendors made their own bed by openly defying the clear intent of the bylaw that defines peddlers as “going from place to place” in the conduct of their business. As a result of their own defiance of the town, there are now specific time and distance requirements.

    • 16 Kate

      Nope, not my position. Guess I wasn’t clear. I think the town is wasting time, effort and money with their debates and meetings harping over ONE of THREE vendors around the lake. Since the town spent years avoiding or not correctly enforcing the rules for at least 2 of these vendors, here’s the solution: stop debating and just enforce the rule for all now or get over it for not doing it in the first place.

      If this is that much of a thorn in the side for the town and some of the residents then enforce the rules that as you’ve said, have been in place for years and move on. Simple and does not require repeated meetings, debates and wasted time nor does it require changing any bylaws as you suggest I do. Thanks for the recommendation, though.

      I can see some of your points, although some are contradictory. I’m not as dim witted as you’d like to believe, but I still disagree that Wakefield didn’t bring this problem on themselves. They don’t have to renew the vendors license, do they? It’s not one license, good for life? If Wakefield was the helpless victim of vendors not listening and defying their stipulations, then stop renewing their license. Here are the rules, follow them or we can’t renew your license.

      Which makes me wonder, why now? Why now is this such a concern for the town when all years passed they just kept letting everything slide and kept renewing theses vendors licenses?
      Now, when the TOWN NEEDS SOME SERIOUS RENEWAL AND REPAIR, let’s argue over the laws we never enforced properly to begin with and say oh, poor us, those vendors don’t listen. Oh, but here’s your license renewal for another year! Lol, it’s almost funny.

      I also don’t think it’s fair to harp on one vendor and not the other. Why? Because a slush stand is less obtrusive than other stands? C’mon. It’s foolish. Same rules for all. One can do it, but one can’t, and we shouldn’t comment on it or else it means we’re “ratting” someone out, as you said? What is this, The Godfather? So yea, it is weird that you argue against one stand and yet quickly come to the defense of another doing the same exact thing. Makes it seem personal.

  8. 17 Mark Sardella

    Wow! I can’t believe you came up with a solution that never occurred to town officials: just don’t renew vendors licenses! Actually, they did think of it. Here’s something else you didn’t know. Vendors can either get a license from the town in which they operate or they can get one from the state. Vendors have circumvented the town and gone to the state for licenses when they think the town might deny them. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, feel free to call Steve Maio.) I also advocate the same rules for all. Glad we finally agree!

    • 18 Kate

      Lol, actually I did know that, are you surprised? I bet you are! Do we know if that is in fact what the slush and hot dog stand have done? Or is that an assumption?

      • 19 Mark Sardella

        I guess that was why you suggested as a solution that the town “stop renewing their license. Here are the rules, follow them or we can’t renew your license.”

      • 20 Kate

        Well, if they have done that then the town should have reported the disordinances to the state right when they began happening and let them decide whether or not to further renew these licenses. The law states these peddlers must abide by the local laws for whatever town or city they are in, as you know, so I would like to think the state wouldnt have looked the other way if it was reported. Seems like Wakefield fell down the slippery slope with this one.

      • 21 Kate

        Lol. A simple Google search tells you the fees and renewal terms for Wakefield town licenses, which I read before I even posted that. Don’t be so snarky and such a know it all. It doesn’t help you prove your points. It also obviously stated the state license term, but I guess I wanted to think these vendors wouldnt want to be so deviant against the town they are making money from and circumvent where they obtain their licenses from. I’ve been proved wrong,

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