City leaders, still fretting that more food trucks downtown would create too much noise for residents, put off until February action on a plan to let the businesses cater to diners at curbside during lunch hours in select parts of town.

The mobile food vendors, a growing industry nationally with many fans in Raleigh, are allowed to set up on private property but can’t operate on public roads unless part of a special event such as downtown celebrations.

More than 1,000 people recently petitioned the city to loosen its food truck rules, and a council committee last month proposed a six-month pilot program allowing vendors to have some street parking.

But Tuesday’s delay was another instance in which the City Council seems to have had difficulty making a firm decision on a major change in downtown rules.

Members have been trying to balance the wants and needs of the people who enjoy working, shopping and dining downtown with the growing numbers of people who live there. It’s been a challenge since August, when, in another attempt to limit nightlife noise, the council approved sidewalk dining restrictions – both on hours and numbers of people – that it later loosened after an outcry from downtown businesses.

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