Originally Published: February 6, 2009 9:55 p.m.
PRESCOTT - The small freestanding canopy in the parking lot of the Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company had become a home away from home for hotdog vendor Pat Gregory.
For years, Gregory spent 12-hour days preparing for and operating his thriving hotdog stand from beneath the canopy.
Recently, however, a legal hiccup over an obscure city code has uprooted Gregory from his protective booth, and into the elements near the entrance to Foxworth.
"I was set up underneath that for about six years," Gregory said Friday morning, pointing across the parking lot to the now-empty canopy.
And of his move to a canopy-free spot just outside the front door of the Sixth Street business, Gregory said, "I can't stand it, actually. It has made my business a lot harder."
Prescott Assistant Community Development Director George Worley agreed this week that recent city enforcement had prompted some changes for Gregory's business.
As Worley explained it, city code allows businesses such as Gregory's to operate as "ancillary" uses to other existing businesses.
But, Worley said, "The situation with our code isn't clear about the location."
City officials have long interpreted the code to mean that the ancillary business must be "under the roof of the building" of the main business. Outside of the business was OK, Worley said, as long as it was under the overhang of the building.
While Gregory's freestanding canopy did not comply with that interpretation, Worley said city officials had never received a complaint about it, so they never took any enforcement action.
But recently, another hotdog stand tried to locate in downtown Prescott, at Goodwin and Montezuma in the parking lot of the old Enterprise car rental business.
Worley said his department learned about that stand almost immediately, "and we sent our code guy over there."
When the code enforcement official told the new vendor about the city code prohibiting the hotdog stand, Gregory's booth came up as an example of a similar operation.
That, in turn, caused the city to approach Gregory about his own violation.
Meanwhile, Worley said both of the hotdog stands have come into compliance by moving closer to existing businesses, with the new hotdog stand, CRW, moving to an auto dealership at Carleton and Montezuma.
Even so, Worley said the situation has generated enough confusion to cause his department to refer the matter to the city's Unified Development Code Committee for review.
The staff proposal that will go to that committee Thursday morning will be to allow mobile vendors to operate alongside existing businesses, as long as the principal use is compatible.
Worley said he believes the reasoning for the original city regulation was to prohibit uses in the downtown area that might have an unfair advantage over existing restaurants because of the lack of overhead costs.
In addition, he said the city might have wanted to avoid a "proliferation" of mobile vendors all over town.
Gregory hopes the city will tweak its code so he can return to the spot that has become known to his customers - 100 to 150 of whom flock to his stand every day.
"I'd love to continue to sell hotdogs right where I've been doing it for the last six years," Gregory said, adding that many local residents agree. "At least 600 people have signed my petition," he said.
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