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Published: Wednesday, 8/19/2009

Decision on Monroe hot dog stand now up to judge


MONROE - A federal judge is being asked to decide whether two women can sell hot dogs on a downtown Monroe street corner.

Rochelle Dalrymple and Cheri Sicuso, who are calling their vendor cart the Dog Pound, are suing the city over action taken in July denying them a permit to operate a hot dog cart in the city.

The lawsuit was recently moved from Monroe County Circuit Court to U.S. District Court in Detroit because the city, the defendant in the complaint, raised constitutional issues.

Ms. Dalrymple and Ms. Sicuso, who is the owner of Housing Assistance Management, applied for a license as required by the city's Hawker and Peddler and Transient Merchant Ordinance,

The women purchased a $3,400 cart to sell hot dogs at First and Washington streets in downtown Monroe as well as other areas in the city on a seasonal basis.

The pair went before council to ask for a permit on July 6, but were turned down 5-0, in part, because council members feared the hot dog stand would compete against downtown restaurants.

The lawsuit claims that the action taken by council in rejecting the permit - because local businesses that pay real estate taxes shouldn't compete against a mobile hot dog cart - was capricious and arbitrary.

The complaint also claims that the hawkers and peddlers ordinance violates the state and federal constitution and "bears no relation to the preservation of the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare of the community."

Ms. Dalrymple said the lunch cart would meet needs of workers who don't have time to sit down for a meal at a restaurant and want to grab something to eat and go.

The application from the women proposed operating the mobile hot dog cart from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for about three months out of the year.

"We eat downtown every day if we don't bring our lunches, and we often order out for food. One of the cafes closes at 2 p.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m. We want to bring something new to downtown," said Ms. Dalrymple, who works at the downtown management business with Ms. Sicusco.

The custom-made stainless steel vendor cart would also offer soft drinks, condiments, potato chips, and cole slaw.

Mayor Mark Worrell said concerns about the impact on struggling eateries downtown and whether allowing it would open the door to other types sidewalk venders went into the council decision.

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