A divided Common Council approved changes in zoning law Tuesday that allow mobile food vendors to operate year-round in the city—with several restrictions and a fee that all but guarantees few will bother to make the trip.
Saying the proposed $200 annual permit fee was too low, Councilor Rick Taylor offered up an amendment increasing it to $1,000. The modification—and zoning measure—passed by a 4-3 vote after spirited discussion.
The debate was a familiar one: whether permitting mobile vendors puts taxpaying bricks-and-mortar establishments at risk.
“Do we want to encourage food trucks to come in … and potentially put one of these [restaurants] out of business?” asked council President Roy Johnson. He voted with Taylor, Mark Boice and Jeff Zeckel to hike the fee, saying it gives vendors a “vested interest” in the community.
Council member Stephen Wood said patrons, not politicians, should decide the fate of businesses. Colleagues Gregory O’Connor and Brian Ayer joined him in the minority.
“It’s good competition,” Wood said of food trucks. “And if they come and are successful here, they may open businesses here.”
That entrepreneurial element was among the points city Planning Director Christy Langley made in presenting the recommended zoning changes to the council.
“Food trucks can literally be an incubator” for bricks-and-mortar restaurants, she said.
Find the entire article by Andrea Muirragui Davis at ibj.com <here>