A request from a Belfast taxi company to operate an additional two cars has prompted city officials to consider easing restrictions on issuing taxicab licenses.

Under the current city ordinance, taxicab operators must obtain a “certificate of public convenience and necessity,” by demonstrating at a public hearing that there is a need for an additional livery service in the area or additional cars for an established service.

The ordinance recently came into question when Rockland-based Schooner Bay Taxi applied for a license to conduct business in Belfast. The request met with objections from Swanville-based Bay Taxi, the owners claiming they had no qualms about competition but there was no need for an additional service.

The Council, however, allowed Schooner Bay Taxi to have two cars of the service’s eight-car fleet in Belfast at any given time.

At the following Council meeting, April 6, Little Man Taxi operator Mark Leathers requested an additional two licenses for his cab service, which previously had one licensed car.

Several city councilors noted their discomfort with regulating the number of players in the taxi business when the same does not apply to other kinds of businesses.

Councilor Roger Lee commented that the Council had acted without regard to the ordinance in granting licenses Schooner Bay Taxi, because, he said, the company had not demonstrated a need for additional taxi service in Belfast.

Lee recommended striking the ordinance’s requirement that the cab operator demonstrate need if the Council was going to overlook that part of the law.

Asked if he could demonstrate that additional taxis were necessary in Belfast, Leathers said he had been four calls behind schedule for months. He offered to show the Council his call logs as evidence.

The Council approved Leathers for two additional licenses and asked city staff to research taxi license regulations in other municipalities.

In other business, the Council:

• Gave a final reading and adopted amendments to the City Code of Ordinances regarding a proposal to allow rural affordable housing developments consistent with the adopted Future Land Use of the Comprehensive Plan. The change was made after a request from Habitat for Humanity. The group has proposed building several affordable housing units across from City Point Station.

• Approved $114,465 worth of change orders related to waste-water treatment system improvements funded by federal stimulus grants. According to City Manager Joe Slocum, the changes are within the project budget and will not cost the city any additional money.

• Considered changing the fees for construction and demolition debris at the transfer station. The current fee scale of $0.05 per pound, based on a visual assessment of weight, dates to before 1992, according to Slocum. Considerations that were raised by the Council included placing a roof over the demo debris dumpster to keep out water, which adds to the cost of removing the waste. Councilor Eric Sanders said the city should invest in recycling rather than raising the fee scale for construction waste, much of which could be recycled.

• Approved a request by Senior College to hang banners at three city locations for the eighth annual Festival of Arts, to be held at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center May 13 to May 15.

• Approved a request from Coastal Mountain Land Trust for a 5k walk and 10k race.

• Approved a request by the city clerk to spend up to $3,100 from an existing reserve account to buy voting booths.