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Merrimack Valley

July 16, 2013

North Andover Selectmen discuss regulation of food carts

NORTH ANDOVER — Aside from obtaining a permit from the Board of Health, food cart operators in North Andover are not regulated.

If someone selling pizza from a truck wants to do business in front of a local pizza shop, there is currently no rule against doing so.

This is likely to change. The selectmen last night discussed a set of proposed regulations that among other things would require vendors to obtain a takeout food license and prohibit them from setting up shop within 200 feet of a local restaurant without the eatery’s permission.

The May 21 annual Town Meeting approved an article that calls for the regulation of mobile food vendors.

Selectman William Gordon said the goal of the regulations is to protect local businesses. The town’s “brick and mortar businesses,” Selectman Tracy Watson said, “need our protection.”

Rebecca D’Entremont, a North Andover resident who works in Boston, said a mobile cupcake vendor in that city regularly parks near a bakery that sells the same product.

“It’s up to me to decide,” she said, which business she wishes to patronize. Competition, she said, is good for everyone.

Nadine Levin, owner of Pipe Dream Cupcakes LLC and a local resident, has been selling cupcakes from a truck for more than a year. She noted that the taxes customers pay for her cupcakes go to the community in which she happens to be selling them.

She later told The Eagle-Tribune that she is not about to park her truck in front of a competitor’s business.

Kathy Santoro, owner of the Good Day Cafe, 19 High St., said the town should help its “brick and mortar” businesses, of which her restaurant is one.

“We have to meet a significant payroll,” she said.

Terry Holland, owner of Stachey’s Pizza, 9 High St., said, “I don’t see it (competition from food trucks) as a big problem, but it could be.” As a “brick and mortar” business owner, Holland said he did not want to get into a fight with the mobile food vendors, whom he described as “good people out trying to make a living.”

“It’s not going to be solved tonight,” said selectmen Chairwoman Rosemary Connelly Smedile.

The board voted unanimously to appoint a committee that will review the proposed regulations, drafted by Community Development Director Curt Bellevance, and make a recommendation.

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