NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s a new standoff in the battle over food trucks at the famous Dyker Heights Christmas light display.
A Brooklyn politician says an ice cream vendor is taking advantage of veterans in order to qualify for a legal loophole.
It’s hard to believe ice cream is at the core of so much controversy in the middle of December.
“It’s insane, it’s mind boggling, and our next step is to sue the city to compel them to enforce the law,” City Councilman Justin Brannan said.
Thousands of tourists flock to Dyker Heights around this time every year to see the famous light show in the residential neighborhood, but tourists tend to attract street vendors.
“We were getting a lot of complaints from residents saying ‘there’s an ice cream truck idling outside my house for 12 hours a day spewing fumes.’ It’s disgusting, it’s creating garbage,” Brannan said.
Brannan sponsored a bill that was passed into law this year banning street vendors from Dyker Heights during the holidays. Now however, two ice cream trucks with the same owner are still there every night.
“He pays veterans to sit there with him and somehow that allows him to break the law,” Brannan alleges.
The councilman claims the truck’s owner is exploiting a 19th century state law, that allows disabled veterans to vend in otherwise restricted zones.
“I certainly support disabled veterans, but the veterans are not the ones doing the vending,” Brannan explained.
CBS2 asked the truck’s owner to explain.
“Are you allowed to be here?” CBS2’s Ali Bauman asked.
“Yeah,” replied ice cream vendor Eddie Cumart.
“Is it because you’re a veteran?” Bauman continued.
“My partner’s a veteran,” Cumart said. “He’s doing something,” he added when asked if CBS2 could speak with the vet.
In a statement, the NYPD said “the trucks and vendors are all properly licensed, but without the presence of the licensed disabled vets, they would be subject to the ban and enforcement.”
“It’s crazy and he’s exploiting veterans to make money for himself,” Brannan declared.
“The councilman is wasting his time,” Cumart added.
The NYPD says since the street vendor ban went into effect here, they’ve issued one summons. The councilman says with only one week until Christmas, he’ll have to file a lawsuit sometime before next Christmas.