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Officials look to change mobile vending regulations

Since Pete and Trish Ellis started operating a mobile food vending machine in March, they have built up their corner and gained some customers.

A father-daughter duo, Pete’s Meats and Treats is one of several Pahrump businesses located along a well-traveled stretch of Highway 160. But officials recently said that they had heard concerns about off-the-road vendors from some of the passersby.

“We have had complaints about people parking on land without permission or creating a traffic hazard,” Nye County Department of Planning Director Darrell Lacy said. “We are trying to put in place simple regulations to manage where they operate.”

The matter will be discussed during a Pahrump Regional Planning Commission meeting tonight where officials plan to introduce a new section to Nye County comprehensive land use planning and zoning that regulates mobile food vending. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Nye County Commission chambers on Calvada Eye.

The planning commission would send any changes on to the Nye County Commission, which then could adopt the changes into the county code.

As a licensed vendor, Pete Ellis can vend from any street easement, but he said he already has to pay for at least one annual health department inspection.

“Certainly, anybody that’s parked at a corner or blocking the view out of an access to another public building would be an issue but I can’t see where anything along the side of a highway causes any kind of health or safety issue,” Pete Ellis said.

According to the changes proposed by officials, vendors should have legal access to the land where they are parked, paved access and parking for customers off the street, and proper health department permits.

Additionally, mobile food vending units wishing to operate along Nevada Highway 160 and Nevada Highway 372 shall apply for a conditional use permit, according to the document.

Lacy said regulations would apply only to three or four regular vendors who set up one location for an extended time.

“This does not apply to ones who only operate at events or visit construction sites,” Lacy said.

From Tuesday to Saturday, Ellis parks his van in a parking lot next to Allstate Insurance where he sells Kansas City-style barbecue and an assortment of meat entrees. The location draws customers throughout the day but Ellis said he typically sees strong sales growth in the evening.

“This seems like a great location,” he said. “I have the desire to have more people, but I have enough people.”

Some of the proposed regulations also prohibit mobile food vending units from parking right-of-way and being stationary in one location for more than a maximum of one hour in every 24-hour period.

“I think we’ve got enough laws, that’s what I really think,” Ellis said. “I actually thought this was a little bit of a freer state than it is already and I’m surprised that there are as many regulations.

“Right now, I don’t think there’s any issue with too many vendors or traffic problems or safety issues,” he said.

Pahrump Regional Planning Commission Chairman John Koenig and Vice Chairman Gregory Hafen declined to comment on the proposed regulations ahead of the Wednesday meeting.

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