2008-07-26 / Top News

City Will Take Closer Look at Temporary Merchandise Tents

By Ryan Schlehuber

Mackinac Island's business license ordinance will be revisited this fall as city leaders are questioning whether temporary retail booths connected with a special events or conferences should be required to purchase a city business license.

The issue came before City Council at its regular meeting Wednesday, July 16, after the city was told that clothing retailer Lands' End would be selling merchandise during the Chicago Yacht Club awards party at Grand Hotel. The company

is a major sponsor of Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac this year.

Lands' End operated a temporary business in a tent next to the hotel's tennis courts during the party Tuesday, July 22, selling race-related merchandise to yacht club members, and to the general public as well.

"Our ordinance does read that if a vendor is selling merchandise directly related to a special event or convention within, say, a hotel, there is no need for that business to purchase a new business license," said Kelly Bean, assistant to Mayor Margaret Doud, Friday, July 18. "However, part of Lands' End's tent was going to be accessible to the public, so we asked them to buy a business license."

City attorney Tom Evashevski informed Council that it could not deny Lands' End the right to sell merchandise at the party at the hotel because it meets the city's ordinance, but it could direct it to purchase a new business fee, because it is opening its outlet to the general public.

Thus, Lands' End was instructed to purchase a new business license for $400, said Ms. Bean. Renewal next year will cost $55.

Councilman Michael Hart, at the meeting, questioned whether the city should review the city's business license ordinance to include temporary businesses.

"We have year-around and seasonal businesses that pay, and then we have these guys who blow in here without having to pay anything," said Mr. Hart, speaking of special event vendors. I just have a problem with that."

Council agreed it may be a good idea to review the ordinance and address the issue of businesses or groups erecting tents for the purpose of operating temporarily on the Island.

"Street vendors aren't allowed on Mackinac Island, but we also don't want people popping up tents all around the Island and avoiding zoning approval and business license fees because they're only a temporary Island business," said Ms. Bean.

Erecting a tent, for whatever event, needs zoning approval from the city, she noted.

Council faces another license issue, as the Ann Arborbased Spirited Tours, an offisland walking tour of ghost stories and Native American tales, asked Council for permission to operate in the city and at the state park.

The issue was tabled until the company's operation and a commercial tour license is approved by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. The commission will not be able to address the issue before September, said Director Phil Porter.

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