Kitty Hawk to review itinerant vendor ordinance, focus on food trucks

By on July 6, 2022


Concerned that the town of Kitty Hawk’s food truck and itinerant vendor ordinances do not reflect how they are being applied, Town Planner Rob Testerman has asked the town council to recommend a path forward on how to enforce the regulations.

“Tonight I’m…requesting guidance from counsel to determine how we would like to move forward with this,” he said at the council’s July 5 meeting.

The general issue of itinerant vendors has flared up in neighboring Kill Devil Hills where Ami Hill, owner of #Bus252 art gallery, has filed a lawsuit challenging an ordinance “that requires itinerant vendors to donate 100% of their profits to charity in exchange for the right to sell during the high tourism season.”

The Kitty Hawk ordinance that Testerman is referring to is Section 16.1 of the town code, Selling goods on public property. The first paragraph of the ordinance would seem to prohibit any itinerant vendor activity.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to expose for sale, offer to sell, barter or exchange…within the street and highway rights-of-way of the town, or on the ocean beaches of the town, or on parking lots (and other areas open to the public) which are contiguous to the state highway and town street rights-of-way,” the ordinance reads, specifically referencing itinerant vendors.

The town does have an ordinance governing outdoor events and gatherings (18.11), and permits have been issued to itinerant vendors using its provisions. However, that ordinance, doesn’t reference the itinerant vendor language of 16.1, which could lead to confusion in the future.

“A different planner, different years down the road [could have] a different interpretation and things could get flipped around,” Testerman said in a Voice interview following the meeting. “It’s better to get it cleaned up and codified.”

Testerman explained that the original intent of the Selling goods on public property ordinance, and other similar town ordinances, was to control out-of-town temporary vendors from selling from any location.

“Before any of these ordinances were in place, people [were] trying to sell different things all over on the beach in an intersection, stuff like that. These ordinances were put into place to try to curb that,” he said. Kitty Hawk ordinance 16.1 was written before food trucks became popular, and in his presentation to the council, Testerman specifically requested guidance on how to regulate food trucks.

“For a number of years, the town has permitted mobile food vendors like food trucks to be located at an existing commercial establishment if the owner of that establishment also owns that truck,” he told the council.

In the follow-up interview, Testerman explained why he hoped to get direction from the council on food trucks in particular.

“The whole food truck industry is gaining in popularity, but we don’t have anything to specifically addressing those,” he said. “It currently falls under that Section 16.1.”

If strictly interpreted or enforced, that ordinance would prohibit all food truck operations in the town.

Testerman outlined three options for the town. One would be to leave 16.1 in place and enforce it, which he told the council, would “…not allow for any [itinerant] merchants regardless of any kind of ownership.”

He also suggested the town could amend the itinerant vendor ordinance to regulate activity, perhaps through permits. Finally, he noted, the town could continue to enforce section 16-1 as written, but develop regulations to permit and regulate mobile food vendors.

Although the town council did not take any action to change the Selling goods on public property ordinance at the meeting, members voiced support for allowing itinerant vendors to operate.

“I don’t think any of us are against anyone trying to make a living in today’s world. That’s not what we’re talking about,” Mayor Craig Garriss said.

In discussion, the council quickly reached consensus that it would have the Kitty Hawk Planning Board review the options.





  • Ray

    As far as Food trucks are concerned , With almost every restaurant closing 2 days a week due to lack of staffing and such , a solution in the near term could easily be , food truck or trucks take up the slack on days they close , at said restaurants , ( or at property like the old Kmart that Target backed out of ) for a small fee , or a symbiotic / barter type relationship , especially as the local communities ( especially Duck and Corolla) are underserved restaurant wise ( more diners than dining ) , seems a Possible solution .

    Thursday, Jul 7 @ 1:26 pm
  • Steven

    There’s not too many folks eating out, there’s just too many tourists

    Thursday, Jul 7 @ 4:33 pm
  • Stephen Miller

    I must be living under a rock. Did not know Target backed out. For God’s sake, don’t tell my wife.

    Thursday, Jul 7 @ 4:59 pm
  • Teresa

    As a tax paying worker of over 35 years on The Outer Banks, I say Let The Locals have a Spot to Sell their Goods!! Even if it upsets the higher class residents, so what??? The OBX was established from the very thing you are trying to take away!! Local as it gets????? Come on, enough is enough!!! When you travel, don’t you want to experience the life of a Local! The best places to eat or fish or kayak! The best place to see the sunrise or set! The Art Talents and Cheffing Talents are amazing here! City Council Members.., please Step Up and make a change! Even a certain spot for Local Vendors to Show their stuff, and not just an event… and not just OFF SEASON!!! I’m sure Local Vendors would agree to pay dues and a percentage to Local Charities of their choice! Even possibly a limit of days in which to sell their goods! A reasonable solution would be a positive change and it’s beyond time to Be That Change! I quit my job without even being able to reach my full retirement age! I was so tired of no change and the experiences I was witnessing around me sickened my soul! If someone has a gifted extraordinary talent then give them a right to show it without being filtered through someone else taking their hard earned pay for that tslent! I know, because I was one of those Locals!! I know my people miss me because they call me and tell me so! I worked in Southern Shores over 1/2 my life fir respectfully obtained businesses as Duck Woods Country Club, Seamark Foods, Sonny Creative Kitchens, Harris Teeter! My creative talents are one of many from Arts to Cake Decorating, to Remodeling homes! There for I feel my opinion on this subject counts maybe more so than others because this subject indeed affected my life! I will strive in the coming years just not on the Outer Banks! I’m just one voice but I’m sure there are many! Open up a listening ear and you guys might just be the celebrities of a generation change! Good Luck 🍀 OBX Local Vendors my heart n prayers are with you all! 💪🏻🙏🏻💕

    Thursday, Jul 7 @ 7:44 pm
  • Currituck

    What constitutes a profit? If I operate my business at a loss, on paper, I owe the charities nothing and get a place to operate my enterprise rent free. Why waste your money suing KDH.

    If you do not use your head you might as well have two places to sit.

    Friday, Jul 8 @ 5:40 am
  • Surf123

    I cannot validate if Target pulled out, but if they do or already have it is not unexpected. It, like most chain stores, are being built for tourists. They and others could care less about locals as without tourists they would not make financial sense. If they do eventually open they still will be picking off Walmart customers. We are better off without with as few big box and chain stores/restaurants as we can have. If not we will continue to turn into Any Town, USA.

    Friday, Jul 8 @ 8:20 am
  • Currituck

    Checked Targets’s corporate website for the new (future) store list. KDH is still listed.

    Saturday, Jul 9 @ 5:38 am