TONAWANDA, NY – The City of Tonawanda council unanimously passed a resolution regulating food trucks Tuesday night that the mobile vendor operators say is unfair and designed only to protect one brick and mortar restaurant.
“If the council passes this legislation, I will recommend that we challenge this in court,” Western New York Food Truck Association attorney Mitchell Stenger said prior to the vote Tuesday. “We are going backwards, and it’s not for the right reasons.”
In August, the council passed a resolution that required food truck operators to pay a $100 permitting fee for the rest of 2013. The measure also made it illegal for food trucks to operate within 100 feet of a restaurant.
But the law expired at the end of 2013, and the body began reviewing the policy in January. The council discussed implementing a resolution that would institute a $250 annual fee and a 100-foot radius from the nearest brick and mortar restaurant.
The council tabled the measure in February to discuss it with Frank Berrafato, the owner of seasonal restaurants Mississippi Mudds and Old Man River on Niagara Street.
Berrafato attended the council’s last meeting to speak against the proposal and argue for the radius requirement to be increased.
“I think that needs to be pushed back, so we can have our space,” Berrafato said at the meeting. “Let’s protect the business owners who pay taxes, let’s protect the people who employ the students of this community.”
The council then revised its proposed resolution, changing the 100-foot radius to 150 feet and prohibiting the trucks from entering Niawanda Park at the Kohler Street entrance, which is located across the street from Mississippi Mudds.
“It has gone from OK to worse,” Stenger said. “They aren’t protecting the health or safety of the residents, they’re protecting one business owner, and we all know who it is.”
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