ASHEVILLE, NC — Food trucks that have been dishing out falafel, burritos and other street food around downtown for years may soon get a chance to dispense foil-wrapped goodies in the city center.
A city survey indicates the trucks have a solid majority of public support, but a split among members of a key city commission means the decision will come down to the wire.
The Downtown Commission is set to vote Friday on overturning a 25-year-old rule that prohibits the mobile kitchens downtown. The commission’s recommendation would go on to the Planning and Zoning Commission and could be in front of the City Council for final approval by Aug. 23.
The seemingly low-profile issue has sparked impassioned political debate between some restaurateurs and truck owners. Tempers became so heated at a June 10 Downtown Commission meeting in City Hall that a police officer was called.
Now after weeks of delays and calls to first do an economic impact study, commission members are expected to approve draft rules.
“It may get modified, but I do think it will pass,” said Bruce Hazzard, commission chairman.
Chances for final approval also appear good. Six of seven council members have weighed in on the issue, with three favoring the trucks, one opposed and two undecided.
Public sentiment appears to fall along those lines. June 6 results of an Asheville Downtown Association unscientific survey showed that, of 664 responses from restaurant owners, residents, downtown workers and tourists, 75 percent favored allowing the trucks.
Currently, food push carts that do not prepare food on site are allowed downtown. The draft rules would allow up to 10 trucks with kitchens.
They would have to set up in private parking lots that meet minimum city standards for landscaping and access.
Up to five trucks could be allowed in one lot depending on its size.
Both lots and trucks would have to get permits, and the trucks would be subject to health inspections like restaurants.
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