The meeting began with city Councilor Kevin McCauley reviewing the legal process for 15 minutes.
Resident Sam Alkas is the first up.
Alkas, a Frederick Street resident, said that if there is no firm plan on the former mall site, officials "shouldn't take away the free enterprise" system.
"Don't throw 'em all out because you need the business down here," he said.
John O'Sullivan said there is no problem with health on the carts.
"The real issue here is profitability," he said. "Buildings want to take away the business" from the vendors.
O'Sullivan said the vendors have been here longer.
Tim Lapierre, another resident, said that if parking is a major issue, you need more downtown than just government buildings.
One issue not brought up so far is that the vendors own property and businesses in Bristol. They pay taxes in Bristol.
"The whole thing is being blown out of proportion," Lapierre said.
He said the vendors offer good food at good prices. Building owners also have the option of running a cart. They don't have a valid reason for their push to restrict carts.
Al Cianchetti, a resident, said he wants the panel to be upfront and should not breach the basics of free enterprise.
"The gentleman who owns the restaurant is all wrong," Cianchetti said. He pointed out that lots of businesses in town have competitors next door or across the street.
He said he loves the food at Ken's Grill "and I don't want to see him move anyplace."
Larry Niek, another resident, thanked the committee for its public service. He said he appreciates the city's strong sense of community.
"Bristol is unique," he said, in its tolerance for all and for standing up for the little guy.
He said he favors letting the vendors alone. He said there are no health and safety issues, according to news stories in the Press.
Niek said that he hopes "there will always be a place for the vendors. They do contribute to a certain ambience" and culture.
Tom Doyle, another resident, said he favors vendors. "It's a convenient way to get a bite to eat," Doyle said.
He said that customers are always right. If a person picks a stand or cart, "that is their right."
Doyle recalled a peanut vendor who used to meet the train in Plainville.
Vendors belong in an urban area, he said. He said taxes are too high and "our priorities are out of whack."
Doyle said he'd rather see the mayors on their toes than the citizens on their knees so don't lengthen their their term of office.
Mike Clawson, who runs a vending truck, said there have been vendors in the city for 30 years or more. He said he's been in business for three years and offered a good meal at a fair price, quickly.
"We do provide food to a very different clientele"than the restaurants, Clawson said. "We're doing a very good service for them."
Ann Marie Meehan, a resident, who is married to Clawson, said there are no health or safety issues.
She said she has a petition with nearly 2,300 signatures from citizens who support the vendors, which she handed in.
Luis Medina, a resident, said the vendors "are trying to make a living." He said he wants to support vendors who are his friends.
John Rudnick, a resident, said there is a big feeling of support for the food vendors.
"Everyone is for the food vendor" for good reasons, Rudnick said. He said the city can't ignore the hard workers.
"The heart of Bristol" and the hard-wrking people, want to get a hot dog when they're dirty and sweaty and don't want to go to a restaurant, he said.
He said the vendors are working hard, too. Build on what's working, he said, don't try to change.
City Councilor Cliff Block said there's no attempt to ban vendors. "I'm pretty sure we're all in favor of keeping vendors," he said, but there may be new rules they would have to comply with.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley said he doesn't want to take a position. "We have to consider everything," said McCauley, who heads the ordinance panel.
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