H. J. Willy’s to returnCouncil to revise language of island’s only Vendor and Hawker’s license
Settler’s Rock will once again be home to H. J. Willy’s Dog Waggin’ hot dog cart during the tourist season. Proprietor John Kisseberth requested renewal of his Vendor and Hawker’s license, which was first granted to him in 2008, at the Town Council Monday evening. It is the only such license granted on Block Island and is specific to that site.
Kisseberth told the council that last year he only sold sodas there from the back of a car because his cart was broken, but he said he has purchased a new cart.
Members of the public had questions regarding the residency requirement of the license. John Gasner said his son would like to have the license. “He lives here, is a taxpayer and a resident. Kisseberth does not live here any more,” he said. Resident Chris Blane also said he thought the license should go to a Block Island resident. He noted that cab owners have a residency requirement and if they move off the island, they lose the license.
The language of the regulation on the license did not require either, First Warden Kim Gaffett said. However, councilor Sean McGarry suggested the council revisit and revise the language. Gaffett agreed, but said it is too late to do that for this season now that there has been an application for renewal. McGarry noted that the fee for the license could also be reviewed. The license costs $50, and the town is not charging for use of its property at Settler’s Rock.
Kisseberth addressed the residency issue, acknowledging that he lives on the mainland now, but when he first applied for the license, he and his family lived on Block Island. Hard times, he said, have forced them to sell their property and move, though eventually, they hope to come back. For this summer, he will live on a boat in the harbor.
Asked how he will deal with sanitation issues, such as hand washing, without a residence on land, Kisseberth said he will be able to use a property on Corn Neck Road.
The motion to renew the license for Kisseberth was made by Chris Warfel and seconded by Ken Lacoste, and the vote was unanimous. Town Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick informed the council there is a requirement for Department of Health certification, and the motion was modified to include that stipulation. The vote was retaken and again was unanimous. Town Manager Nancy Dodge noted that the license could not be picked up without Department of Health certification and that the license is tied to the cart. Any changes, such as last year’s, need to be reported to the town clerk.
Kisseberth asked for a three-year renewal, explaining he has to invest in his business to make it grow, but the council was reluctant to extend it that far. Gaffett said “the guiding principal was to help an island family have a business.”