FORT SMITH, AR – Later this month, Fort Smith’s planning panel plans to take a closer look at allowing mobile food trucks downtown as requested by city directors.

“This was an initiative of the Board of Directors,” Fort Smith senior planner Maggie Rice said Monday, “and ultimately it could lead to a rewrite of that section of code.”

Currently, mobile food trucks are not allowed in the downtown district per zoning regulations. The city does, however, have provisions for downtown sidewalk vendors. In August, city directors expressed interest in designating an area downtown for food trucks, described as “a growing trend across the country” by Ward 3 Director Mike Lorenz.

“Not only do we need to look at a great way to regulate it and allow it downtown, but also encourage it,” he said in August.

In 1993, a push for mobile food trucks downtown was sidelined, according to the city.

“At that time, there was opposition from the Downtown Merchants Association based on the fact that such mobile food trucks would compete for business with brick-and-mortar restaurants downtown, supposedly without the same level of investment or commitment,” Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman wrote in a memo to directors. “This discussion resulted in a restriction of mobile food trucks in the downtown or commercial-6 zoned properties.”

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