BOYNE CITY, MI — The Boyne City City Commission will go back to the drawing board in its effort to draft an ordinance that will regulate the operation of food trucks within the city.

During its regular semi-monthly meeting Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to reject a proposed ordinance that would have allowed mobile food vendors to operate on a limited basis.

The move leaves the city where it was last fall when discussions about food truck regulations first came up at city hall: with no ordinance regulating food truck operation within the city.

However, with the same vote, in which it rejected the proposed ordinance, the commission also invoked a 90-day moratorium prohibiting food trucks from operating on public property anywhere within the city.

The moratorium specifically exempts mobile food vendors affiliated with special events such as the upcoming annual Fourth of July celebration and other similar events at which food trucks have traditionally been permitted.

By not including private property, the moratorium didn’t go far enough for many of the opponents of the proposed ordinance.

City attorney Jim Murray explained that his firm recommended the moratorium only include public property because that action is more legally defensible.

Murray said to invoke a moratorium on food trucks on private property (where zoning permits them) would amount to a taking of property rights without due process, something that could place the city on shaky legal ground. He also reminded the commissioners that a moratorium is intended to be a temporary “emergency” measure — not to take the place of legislation.

The discussion about food trucks began last fall when city officials began fielding a number of request from vendors inquiring about what they needed to do to operate within the city. Based on the interest, and the fact that the city currently has no ordinance regarding the operation of mobile food vendors, city staff began seeking public input on the issue.

Initial input from those who attended two public information session was generally agreeable to trying out an ordinance that would allow food trucks to operate in a limited way. Based on the input, including some from the city commission, last month city staff brought forward the proposed ordinance that was ultimately voted down Tuesday. The ordinance set forth a permitting process for food truck vendors, designated two public parking areas — one on South Park Street near the Boyne District Library and another near Peninsula Beach, set forth buffer zones on private property around currently-operating restaurants and set forth other regulations such as hours of operation, trash collection and prohibitions against flashing lights and amplified sound.

Last week a group of business owners, many of them restaurant operators, requested a meeting with city officials to voice their concerns about the proposed ordinance. Following the meeting, city staff came out with a revised recommendation to scrap the proposed ordinance and impose the moratorium.

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