Appeal tabled: Shave the Planet can stay through the summer

Customers congregate outside the Shave the Planet shaved ice stand at 3078 N. College Ave. last month in Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill

As mentioned in Tuesday night’s City Council recap, Shave the Planet can stay in business at a parking lot on College Avenue after all.

City Council members voted unanimously to table an appeal that would have overturned a recent Planning Commission decision to allow Eric Siebert to operate his popular shaved ice stand for an extra 90 days at 3078 N. College Avenue.

The appeal – filed at the request of Tracy Hoskins, whose wife owns a Maggie Moo’s franchise across the street – was based on the notion that Shave the Planet had an unfair advantage over the brick and mortar ice cream shop by operating for an extended period of time at the same location.

The arguments

The following arguments were made by Hoskins, Siebert and Ben Israel, who owns the parking lot where Shave the Planet operates.

Hoskins: By offering ice cream, sherbets and milkshakes, Shave the Planet is not just a similar business, but rather, it’s identical – in some respects – to Maggie Moo’s.
Siebert: Ice cream, sherbet and milkshakes are just toppings added to the shaved ice products and they’re not very popular.

Hoskins: Shaved ice stands are like half-price flower vendors who set up across the street from established florists and pick the low-hanging fruit on holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
Siebert: The seasonal aspect is what makes Shave the Planet so different from Maggie Moo’s. Shaved ice is sold from an outdoor, walk-up stand, and ice cream is sold inside a restaurant.
Israel: I’ve been renting my parking lot to shaved ice vendors in the summer for 17 years. It’s nothing Maggie Moo’s didn’t know before opening an ice cream shop across the street.

Hoskins: Shaved ice stand owners aren’t subject to the same level of initial costs, expenses, property taxes and general overhead as brick and mortar owners.
Siebert: Shave the Planet has several costs that Maggie Moo’s doesn’t including year-round storage of stands, and daily transportation of supplies and water.
Israel: Business owners who are tenants don’t necessarily pay property taxes. Those are paid for by the property owner.

Hoskins: By continuing to obtain extended mobile vendor permits for the same location, Shave the Planet is not a mobile business, but rather, it’s clearly a semi-permanent business. Please address the inconsistencies in the ordinance.
Siebert: I agree the rules might need to be changed, but please don’t make us move in the middle of our season.

The decision

The decision was actually more of a non-decision.

Council members agreed that while the case did present some valid concerns about the current mobile vendor ordinance, it wouldn’t be fair to make a judgement at this time considering that there are some major changes just around the corner.

As reported last month, Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty is currently working to draft a completely new mobile vendor ordinance that should address several issues at hand.

Petty said the ordinance will likely require more upfront work from private property owners who wish to rent space to mobile vendors. Those requirements could include things like showing proof that the location can properly handle electric, water, sewer, and other required needs.

The new ordinance is expected to be ready sometime next month.

The council will revisit the issue at the first scheduled meeting in September.