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The Daily Tar Heel

Hungry for competition: Restrictions on food trucks need relaxing

On Wednesday, Sept. 15th, the Chapel Hill Town Council received a petition calling for food trucks to be allowed to vend within city limits. The council moved to send the petition to their staff, so that it can be researched and brought up in a future meeting.

The council should seriously analyze this petition and not let it go unaddressed.

Food trucks (or itinerant merchants) are not banned in Chapel Hill . But they are overly regulated. The petition calls for the release of what has been effectively a ban.

The council should not lift its regulations completely. Instead, it should consider the possibility of allowing a few more trucks to vend in Chapel Hill.

The present policy, according to Chapel Hill’s spokeswoman Catherine Lazorko, is due to the problems that food trucks create. These problems include trash, health and public safety, parking, signage, lighting, taxes and economic impacts on brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Food trucks may cause some of these, but under the current restrictions, it’s impossible to know for sure.

While we understand the town’s concerns, we believe that allowing a few more trucks would not create significant problems and would likely provide more cheap eating options for students and town folks alike.

During the Council’s most recent meeting, council member Ed Harrison suggested that the council look further into the town’s policies. If the unofficial ban isn’t lifted, Councilman Harrison suggested it would be helpful to provide guidelines for obtaining a vending license.

Considering there is a way to obtain a food truck license — it is just very difficult right now — suggestions such as Harrison’s are very welcome.

If the council does not completely relax regulations, they can at least move to clarify the present policies. Food trucks are a newer fad in the restaurant world, as Chamber of Commerce president Aaron Nelson recently said. And Chapel Hill should look into opening up for them.

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