Southold urged to bring peddler rules up to date

With pizza and cupcake trucks and other mobile or transient businesses popping up in Southold Town, the town’s peddler code needs to be either enforced or revised, says Eric Russell, owner of Founders Tavern in Southold.

Mr. Russell, brother of Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, asked the supervisor and members of the town’s code committee last Thursday to consider clarifying the rules, which have not been revised since 1991. Under current code, only ice cream trucks, hot dog trucks and coffee trucks can be licensed as transient retail businesses in the town.

“All other businesses hereinabove defined as transient retail businesses shall be illegal in the Town of Southold,” reads the code.

“There was a time when all forms of peddling were prohibited, but these guys showed up and made a pitch at some point,” said town attorney Martin Finnegan. “And now the issue is spilling over into wineries, because the transients are showing up there.”

Eric Russell added that when a chef from an established local restaurant set up concessions at Peconic Bay Winery for last week’s wine and food festival, that also counted as a transient retail business — not included in the current code.

Councilman Al Krupski argued that peddling is a different issue from someone setting up for a day under a tent and selling their wares.

“But according to the current code, it’s transient,” argued Eric Russell. “So then anyone can set up anything anywhere for a day as a vending operation?”

“That should be addressed separately from a person driving around selling food out of a truck,” said Mr. Krupski.

According to the peddler code, a truck selling food is not supposed to stay in one place. “They are supposed to stay for a maximum of 10 minutes, then move on,” Mr. Finnegan said. “They can’t stay all day in a parking lot.”

Eric Russell said any business setting up displays on other commercial properties is transient, whether it’s a chef taking food from his restaurant to sell at a winery or a car dealership displaying cars on another dealer’s lot.

“And that’s not allowed in our code,” he said, adding that the town should enforce what is written in the code — or work to change it instead of “looking the other way constantly.”

“This isn’t about wineries or tourism — the issue is enforcing the code,” he said. “If I saw an ice cream truck at a winery, I wouldn’t argue with them, because that’s allowed in the code.”

Mr. Finnegan said he would work on a proposal for revising the peddler code for the board. Eric Russell said he planned to bring others concerned about the issue to tomorrow’s code committee meeting at Town Hall at 2:30 p.m.

New Suffolk zoning change?

Town code committee members said they were hesitant to create a new Maritime Heritage zoning district for 3.5 waterfront acres at the end of New Suffolk Avenue in New Suffolk.

For two years, members of the nonprofit preservation group New Suffolk Waterfront Fund have been trying to convince Town Board members to change the zoning from the historic area’s current Marine II, which allows a number of intense uses such as commercial marinas and hotels, to Maritime Heritage, which would “provide more flexibility in terms of the number of uses allowed on the property while also restricting the intensity of those uses,” said town planning director Heather Lanza.

Though the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund does not own the land, the group is working on securing funds to purchase the parcel from the Peconic Land Trust for $2.4 million, a deal that has to be completed by the end of the year.

Barbara Schnitzler, the group’s chairperson, said a change in zoning would only add to the arsenal of protection against development. She said it would also help the group meet longer-term goals to install a septic system and pedestrian-friendly landscaping, renovate the Galley Ho restaurant into a community center and snack bar, and turn a neglected early 20th-century oyster house into a maritime museum.

Ms. Lanza said the new zoning is “a good idea and could work out in the best interest of the community,” but while she and her staff are in the midst of trying to complete the town’s comprehensive plan, “the timing is unfortunate.”

“It’s really something that should come out of the comprehensive planning process rather than before the plan is done,” she said.

Mr. Finnegan agreed that to create a new zoning district that doesn’t exist yet in town code would be a “huge step” for the town to make. Supervisor Russell added that he didn’t know if there was enough community consensus in New Suffolk for the town to create the new zoning district.

“We need to have community consensus to develop something,” he said.

Ms. Schnitzler, who was not present at last week’s meeting, said she planned to meet with the code committee this week.

deer fencing addressed

Code committee members looked at several samples of fencing last Thursday to see what would work best to require in town code and to help deter an ever-increasing deer population from entering local vineyards, farms, yards and gardens.

North Fork Fence in Mattituck provided the committee with samples of different kinds of fencing such as chain-link, chicken wire and yard guard mesh — usually seen around pools. While some committee members didn’t think another heavier-wired fencing was the most visually appealing, Mr. Krupski said he thought it was the best way to go, since it excludes deer but allows smaller animals, such as box turtles, to pass through the bottom.

Mr. Krupski pointed out how many grapes local wineries lose due to hungry deer going through ineffective bird netting.

“They’re big animals that can eat a lot,” he said. “Once you lose 25 percent off the top, that’s a lot of grapes.”

[email protected]