CHAPEL HILL, NC – Food trucks can roll onto Franklin Street March 1 after the Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously passed new rules Monday to let them into town.
With the new ordinance, food trucks previously allowed only on special occasions can park in private parking lots in downtown Chapel Hill and surrounding commercial districts if they obtain required permits.
Restrictions are looser outside of the town center, but in downtown Chapel Hill only one truck can park in each lot. Trucks can’t open during the hours the business on their lot is open, unless it waives the rule.
Trucks can’t sell within 100 feet of a restaurant door without permission.
The town’s principal planner, Kendal Brown, presented changes Monday that have been made to the ordinance since Nov. 28. They included a new $600 annual fee for food truck operators and a program to educate vendors on regulations.
The town will also add a second-shift code enforcement officer because officials worried that the town’s sole officer can’t enforce food truck regulations single-handedly.
Late to the party
Chapel Hill has grappled with a food trucks proposal since September 2010, when local business owner Lex Alexander petitioned the Town Council in support of food trucks.
The council asked the town’s planning department to research the impact of food trucks, and town staff presented an ordinance draft in summer 2011.
Since then, several amendments have been made to the proposal, most of which have relaxed potential food truck regulations.
Mark McCurry, Chapel Hill’s mayoral aide, said the debate has gone on for so long because the council wants to protect downtown businesses. He said the restaurant community is divided on the food truck issue, but those opposed have been very vocal.
Find the entire article by Ana Rocha of The Daily Tar Heel <here>