Mystic business owners at hearing favor ban on peddlers

Stonington - Owners of eight downtown Mystic businesses supported a proposed ordinance that would ban peddlers from downtown Mystic and Pawcatuck during a Board of Selectmen public hearing on Wednesday.

After listening to the speakers, the selectmen voted to send the proposed ordinance to a town meeting vote later this year. As they did in August, members of the Downtown Mystic Merchants Association appeared before the selectmen Wednesday night urging them to support the proposed ordinance.

President Rod Desmarais said the peddlers have an unfair advantage over downtown businesses, which pay rent and taxes and have had to endure the impact of the drawbridge and streetscape projects as well as a difficult economy in recent years. He said peddlers also detract from the character of the downtown.

Tim Murray, owner of John's Mystic River Tavern, said a hot dog vendor sets up near his Cottrell Street pub, which also sells hot dogs.

"I think we need to make sure this doesn't continue," he said.

Leo Roche, owner of the Harp & Hound pub, said the vendors "come in during the high season and make their money.

"You won't see them there in January and February, but we'll be there," he said.

Two of the peddlers opposed the ban during the hearing. Ken Parker, who operates a hot dog cart, said he provides tourists and residents with an inexpensive alternative, especially at events such as the summer blues concerts in Mystic River Park.

He said his cart is not an eyesore and he plans to operate nine months out of the year. James Garbo, who runs a lobster truck he parks on Cottrell Street, said he pays taxes on his truck, vendor fees and sales tax. He added he does not feel he is taking away from the character of the town by being there.

"I think I bring an element that people enjoy," he said.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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