Opponents of an Anne Arundel County Council bill that would regulate roadside vendors would have us believe it will prevent us from buying a fresh peach at a roadside stand ever again. They're as paranoid about this fairly innocuous piece of legislation as gun enthusiasts are about waiting periods; the most minor regulation looks like a conspiracy to put them out of business. In fact, the bill, sponsored by Councilman James E. "Ed" DeGrange, only asks roadside vendors to fulfill the same basic requirements as every other commercial enterprise.
Roadside vendors now are totally unregulated. They are the only type of business that can ignore commercial zoning restrictions and avoid health inspections. Trucks full of Oriental rugs, giant stuffed animals and velvet Elvis paintings drive in from out of state and set up camp wherever they want, whether it be a dangerous intersection or someone's front yard. Watermen hawking seafood may be one of summer's most welcome sights, but the sale of unregulated fish poses a health risk. Technically, seafood vendors fall under state health requirements, but they're virtually never inspected since there's no record of their existence.