By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Following a brief public hearing, the Board of Selectmen yesterday formally adopted the ordinance imposing a fee on itinerant vendors operating during Motorcycle Week.
Despite misgivings expressed by the owners of both Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, who together host vendors during the rally, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended introducing a licensing fee to Town Meeting in March. Town Meeting endorsed the recommendation and authorized the select board to adopt the ordinance.
Mirroring the precedent of Laconia, the ordinance would require all itinerant vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450, and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation. The licensing fee will first be charged in 2017.
The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that in 2015 expenses were $18,017, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
When selectmen proposed imposing a licensing fee last winter Anne Deli, the owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson, repeatedly warned against it, believing a fee will deter vendors from operating at the rally. When the licensing fee was first proposed, she asked "Does Meredith rally want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"
Likewise, Russ Hart of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant told the board the proposal was "not welcoming" and said "we don't need anything to diminish Motorcycle Week."
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