Outside the town center, the proposed limit on the number of food trucks or trailers per parking lot has been relaxed from one truck per 100 spots to one per 30 spots. Previously, lots were capped at one truck downtown and two outside of downtown regardless of lot size, but that also has been reversed.
The permit process was also revised in this draft to allow a food truck operator to use a single permit to operate at multiple locations in town.
Planning board members have said they support the entrepreneurial aspect of food trucks, but the fact that they can’t regulate and tax food trucks’ sales is a problem. In accordance with state law, Chapel Hill cannot require vendors to divulge tax-payment information to the town, Brown said.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce also worried that food trucks could present competition to brick-and-mortar restaurants. The chamber suggested that the town require the food trucks be connected to a base in Orange County, but the town attorney said Chapel Hill cannot legally require this.
“We should not move forward if we can’t work this out,” said Kristen Smith, on behalf of the chamber. “We cannot support the ordinance as drafted.”
But Becky Cascio of Pie Pushers food trailer in Durham and Steve Williams thanked Brown for the trailer amendment.
The Williams said they have spent $5,000 on their trailer since they bought it in July. They expect to spend an additional $7,000 before they can have Tumbleweed Café up and running around March of next year.
The Williams aren’t the first ones to turn to food trucks for extra money in today’s economy. According to resident emails and minutes from past council meetings, multiple people have expressed interest in opening because of the down economy.
Michael Stenke, owner of the Raleigh-based Klausie’s Pizza, said at the Feb. 28 council business meeting that his food truck has brought him success. He opened his truck while unemployed, and said people have since suggested he start a restaurant.
Brown said the planning board will plan a fee schedule and research trailers and enforcement costs before the council meeting.
Nancy Williams said moving toward trucks will help the town.
“It can only bring people in.”
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