RIDGEFIELD -- Hot dog carts, ice cream trucks, mobile taco stands -- come on in.
Just as long as one person doesn't own you all.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday not to limit the number of food trucks -- no matter what the fare -- that wend their way through town or set up shop on a major thoroughfare for the day.
However, the selectmen decided to limit the permits to one per person.
"We don't want anyone to have a monopoly,'' said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
As summer approaches, the selectmen must approve new permits, or renew old ones, for the mobile food vendors in town.
Currently, there are about eight to 10 of these vendors -- five of them of them ice cream trucks.
Rather than just renew them without regard to number, the selectmen decided earlier this month to learn if other towns limit the number of such vendors, or whether the town even has the right to do so.
Marconi said Wednesday that a check of these two areas showed that while no town in the state does limit these vendors, the town could do so on its own.
Selectman Di Masters said at the meeting that the town should strive to balance the business of such vendors -- who each pay a $2,000 a year permit fee -- with actual restaurants, whose owners have to pay much more in taxes.
"Especially in this economy, there needs to be a balance,'' Masters said.
She also suggested that out-of-town residents pay a higher fee for a permit than town residents -- an idea that did not get further discussion.
Selectman Andrew Bodner took non-regulatory stance on the issue, pointing out that no one has ever complained about the number of food trucks in town and there is no evidence they cause a problem..
"It's not our business to decide whether they're competing,'' Bodner said. "I've never seen a line of trucks going up and down the streets.''
And, Marconi said, the permit each vendor gets controls where they do business.
"They are not permitted to open a hot dog stand in front of a restaurant,'' he said.
Republican Town Chairman Bob Hebert also said people should be allowed to run businesses in town without interference from the selectmen, as long as the carts meet health and zoning codes.
"I don't think it's appropriate for five people there deciding on the free market,'' Hebert said of the five selectman.
"What if they start deciding how many real estate offices should be in town?''
But as Gamze Ceylan then showed the board, these issues aren't always simple.
Ceylan said her father, Enver Ceylan, now operated Circusman, an ice cream truck, in town. But, she said, he also has permits to sell ice cream in Bethel and Newtown from the same truck.
Therefore, her brother, Eren, wants to operate a second truck, Circusman II.
When her father is in other towns, she said, her brother could substitute on the local ice cream routes.
"It would be his truck,'' she said, "It would be a separate business.''
And, Ceylan said, her family understands that ice cream trucks are not going to allowed to set up shop in the town's historic district.
"We completely understand what you are saying about the town of Ridgefield,'' she said.
However, Lynn Cohen, whose son, Zach, runs the Cones4College ice cream truck in town, said both Circusman trucks could end up in town, creating even more competition in the Popsicle trade, despite the Celyans' promises to the contrary.
"In real life, it doesn't work out that way,'' Cohen said.