CHAPEL HILL, NC – “We seem to have over-regulated.”
Those were the words of Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, and the general consensus of the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday, as the council reviewed the impact of new rules governing food trucks in town.
In January the council approved an ordinance designed to encourage food trucks to set up shop while at the same time protecting established restaurants. But since that time, only one vendor has paid the licensing and permitting fees to operate in Chapel Hill, and that, as council member Lee Storrow pointed out, has been a labor of love.
“The Baguetteaboutit truck, who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the owners live in the town of Chapel Hill, really wanted to be able to provide their food and their service to their friends and their family who live in Chapel Hill,” said Storrow. “And they told me it didn’t really make economic sense to apply in Chapel Hill, but they did it because they wanted to bring their service to the community they live in.”
Brian Bottger, owner of the Durham-based Only Burger food truck and restaurant, told the council the high fees have kept him from expanding to Chapel Hill.
“The first thing that comes to mind as I try to do events in Chapel Hill is that the vendor fee is expensive. It is $600-plus dollars, and that is prohibitive, up front, as a cost,” said Bottger.
A vendor seeking to do bring a food truck to Chapel Hill must pay $600 to apply for a permit and the property owner for the lot where the truck will park must also get a zoning compliance permit, at a cost of $118. Once both are approved by town staff, the vendor pays an additional $25 for a business license.
There have been several successful celebrations in Chapel Hill in the past year that featured food trucks, but in each instance the trucks were granted special event permits valid only for the duration of the event.
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