BATTLE CREEK, MI – The lines on Jackson Street are painted and the ordinance is now on the books, but only one vendor has so far applied for a license since Battle Creek commissioners voted to allow food trucks downtown.
“The current application volume is about what we expected,” Jessica VanderKolk, the city’s communications specialist, said in an email Thursday. “We were not anticipating a large number of applications in the immediate term.”
Shane Farlin, owner of the food truck Hogzilla Squeals on Wheels, said he applied for the downtown vending license, the only one to have done so as of Wednesday morning. He said he already has a state-issued veterans peddler’s license and is exempt from additional fees because he is former military.
The City Commission voted in a new vending ordinance July 1, allowing up to seven food trucks to operate on Jackson Street beginning 10 days later. This week, crews marked off parking spaces and installed signs designating the spots for vending.
The issue sparked a months-long debate as downtown restaurant owners voiced concerns over unfair competition in an area that doesn’t have a large enough customer base to support the food trucks. After discussions over locations and the addition of a provision that would end mobile vending downtown after 2015 unless renewed, commissioners adopted the ordinance in a 7-2 vote.
Vendors can operate as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 3 a.m. and must pay a $30 monthly license fee. VanderKolk said because the ordinance requires a background check on all employees involved in transactions, it is the city’s standard practice that each employee must acquire a license.
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