BINGHAMTON, NY – John Norris pulls a hot dog from the steaming compartment at the top of his cart, placing it on a bun before smothering it in spicy mustard and onions.
The hot dog and a paper tray are swiftly wrapped in aluminum foil and handed to the customer. Then it’s onto the next order as steady traffic from the lunch crowd comes to the Porky’s Hot Dogs and More stand on Exchange Street.
Norris, of Binghamton, began the business this summer with his nephew. He originally planned to expand with a food truck, but said legislation the city is working on for mobile food vendors seems too restrictive.
“It kind of puts a damper on where you can make money,” he said.
Under the proposed legislation, food trucks would be restricted to designated locations downtown — 50 feet or 100 feet from brick and mortar restaurants. By comparison, in January, Ithaca approved its own food truck law of 200 feet from the nearest restaurant.
While Binghamton already permits stationary food carts, like Porky’s, existing codes and regulations in the city essentially prohibit food trucks. The difference is placement: food trucks would park on the street, while food carts are generally on the sidewalk.
Last year, a city-issued survey found 88 percent of 661 respondents would eat at a food truck if the city allowed them.
Legislation introduced in September 2013 designed to permit food trucks downtown cooled off as the proposed code changes remained in the municipal and public affairs committee for months.
Eventually, the legislation was returned to city staff, who plan to take it up again during the remainder of this summer. City Clerk Angela Holmes said her office will begin prioritizing legislation regulating food trucks and other mobile food vendors once a final version of the proposed noise ordinance is finished.
The 2013 legislation dealt with stationary food vendors, food trucks and other street vendors, as well as route-based vendors, such as ice cream trucks.
This year, city officials are planning to split the legislation into two parts. The street vendors, like food trucks, would be written and voted on separately. City Council is expected to consider both pieces of legislation this fall.
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