SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council is expected to pass an ordinance next
month that would allow a local business owner to operate a flea market
in a vacant building at the corner of Broadway and Buttonwood Street.
Louis Maietta, who ownes 753 Broadway, said in a memo to the
council that the building has been vacant since Yerxa’s Lawn Lawn &
Garden left a year ago. Maietta said he would like to have 40-50 indoor
vendors, and perhaps a few outdoor, on weekends between 7 a.m. and 5
Councilors generally supported the idea, but talked at length about the
proposed hours, the licensing structure and what could be sold at the
market. The impact of increased traffic on nearby residences was also a
concern for some councilors.
The proposal would require the flea market operator to buy a $75 permit
and undergo a background check. Vendors would have to receive a $25
license to operate a table. Both licenses would be good for one year.
Although the proposed ordinance explicitly outlaws the sale of firearms
at the flea market, city attorney Sally Dagget said that provision
would have to be removed, because only the state has the authority to
regulate gun sales.
“It would be nice to have that in there,” Dagget said. “(But) the city of South Portland cannot ban the sale of firearms.”
Councilor Thomas Coward said the city should be covered by laws
requiring background checks on gun buyers and prohibiting the street
sales of guns. But Daggett didn’t sound confident that Maine state law
was strict enough.
“It’s pretty limited in Maine,” Daggett said.
The proposed ordinance would allow flea market vendors to begin setting
up their tables a 6 a.m., an hour before the market opens. However
Councilor Linda Boudreau said 6 a.m. is too early for a weekend
operation, because it would disturb neighbors.
Boudreau, along with Mayor Tom Blake, also opposed allowing outdoor tables during the warmer months.
Outdoor tables, she said, “tend to look a little junky.”
The council generally agreed to use Maietta’s proposal as a test case
for opening more areas of the city to flea markets, which would require
establishing zoning requirements.