The ordinance states that the new regulations will become effective on Thursday — allowing food trucks to operate within Chapel Hill pending approval by the town.
Kendal Brown, principal planner for the town, said that March 1 was always the start date for certain applications. However, some food truck owners tried applying earlier.
Garner said he submitted an application before the town announced that they wouldn’t accept them until March 1, and it was returned with instructions to turn in the application after Thursday.
Brown said although the planning department, the fire department and the inspections division will issue permits as quickly as they can, they can’t set a definitive date for when food trucks will be approved.
Many food truck owners say they are disappointed that they will have to continue waiting to bring their specialties to Chapel Hill — lengthening an 18-month struggle to gain regular access to town’s streets.
“We aren’t really sure when it’s going to be now,” said Garner. “It depends on their process.”
During Town Council discussions about the creation of an ordinance, some voiced concerns about how allowing food trucks in Chapel Hill would affect traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.
But Garner said he doesn’t think that will be the case.
“We see it as a nice complement,” he said.
The new ordinance requires that food trucks operate on private property and limits trucks per lot, with requirements varying by area.
Garner said that by setting forth such strict regulations, Chapel Hill is missing out on a mobile food culture that the nearby towns of Carrboro and Durham have embraced.
“We have these things called food truck rodeos over in Durham, and they are great pulls for people,” he said.
The ordinance also states that to vend regularly in Chapel Hill, the trucks will have to pay a $600 annual fee, as well as an $118 zoning compliance fee.
Tracy Livers of Olde North State BBQ said she thinks the town’s fee schedule is excessive and she will have to carefully consider whether or not to request a permit.
“We are a small business just getting started and I can’t shell out $600 until I have a spot that I know is going to be worth that much money,” she said.
Carol Edenton, manager of Will and Pop’s food truck, said the fees deterred her from applying for a permit.
“The fees are obscene,” Edenton said in an email. “And the town clearly does not want trucks.”
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