STURGIS - Vendors during the Sturgis motorcycle rally will have seven days to set up their tents and four days to take them down.
The Sturgis city council approved the second reading of an ordinance limiting the time temporary structures can be in place before being open for business. The ordinance now allows vendors a seven-day period to set up their tents before they are selling their goods.
The time limit is set as the seven days prior to the vendor's permit to vend begins.
Vendors also have only four days to take down their tents after their permits expire.
No vending can take place during the period outside the valid permit.
Prior drafts of the ordinance allowed only 48 hours for set up and tear down of temporary structures.
Additional changes include language making the landowner subject to the enforcement of the ordinance. The ordinance also states that temporary structures may be in place for a maximum of 30 days.
Under current city laws, vendors can purchase two 12-day vendor permits. Mayor Maury LaRue clarified that although tacking seven days on prior to that and four on the back would be 35 days, the 30-day total limit takes precedent.
Prior to approving the second reading, the council held a public meeting to address the changes.
Resident and business owner Kim Teigen said that the seven-day limit for setting up a temporary structure would be acceptable, but only if permits were limited to one 12-day license. She said that the visitors who come to town before the rally don't necessarily want the full rally experience, tents and all.
Tom Monahan, owner of Tom's Ts on Main Street, took things one step further.
"This could be a beginning point to get people to build on the vacant lots or rent inside buildings," Monahan said.
Monahan added that his sales drop about 50 percent once the tents go up, but that sales increase before and after. He would also like to see the permits limited to a 12-day selling period.
He added that he sees the opposing viewpoint in that setting up and tearing down large tents may not be physically possible in the time frame, but with the limitations, temporary vendors "might be discouraged from setting up so far in advance if they're not allowed to sell so far in advance."
Teigen and Monahan share the perspective of downtown Sturgis business owners trying to keep local shoppers shopping locally. Another Sturgis business owner said few Sturgis residents shop in downtown anyway.
"As far as Sturgis people shopping downtown, it's not happening," Bob Davis, owner of Sturgis Photo and Gift said.
Davis said that if a business believes a tent is blocking them well ahead of the rally, the thing to do is make a phone call or contact the vendor and tell them not to set up in advance.
Davis also owns property in town that he leases to vendors during the rally. He said that all the money he receives from those leases goes toward keeping his year-round business open.
Dean Kinney, part of the group that owns the Loud American Roadhouse, said his business goes up when the tents do. He said that he respects that other businesses may not have the same experience, but that the rally is important to a wide variety of businesses in Sturgis.
"It's tempting to think we can make these changes and it won't make any difference," Kinney said. "But even for the strongest events, things can change."
What has been missing in many of the public discussions has been the voice of a vendor. Tom Recel, who operates out of Florida, but owns property in the Black Hills, gave a vendor's perspective.
"We spend money in groceries, car rentals, whatever our needs are," Recel said.
He said that about 15 percent of his revenue comes in the first 12 days when operating with the allowed two permits. If the time his business is allowed to operate is cut, he said that would mean he is putting 15 percent fewer dollars back into the local economy. He said that setting up in seven days would be possible, but with the other limitations only amounts to about two or three days to set up.
Second reading of the ordnance with the amendments was approved. Council members Joe DesJarlais and Bernadette Usera opposed the motion. Councilman David Hersrud had been in contact with the council via phone, but communication was disrupted and he was unable to vote on the motion.