Food trucks might soon be allowed in town after the Chapel Hill Planning Board drafted recommendations to relax the proposed food truck ordinance Tuesday night.
The board unanimously approved the ordinance but made four recommendations to the Chapel Hill Town Council. Board members said they felt the ordinance was too restrictive.
October 17 – public hearing before the Town Council at 7 p.m.
November – possible action by Council.
“I’m afraid we’ve made it so strict that it doesn’t seem we’re embracing the trucks,” said board member Kimberly Brewer.
The board recommended that the council reconsider parking lot size requirements outside of downtown, the truck-per-lot limit, the permit process and sales tax regulation.
The ordinance as it stands would restrict food trucks to parking lots that have at least 100 spots outside of downtown. In the downtown district, lots would need at least five spots to host a truck. Trucks would be limited to one per 100 spots with a maximum of two per lot.
The board suggested allowing trucks in smaller lots and allowing more than two trucks per lot.
The proposed ordinance would require trucks to have location-tied permits, but the board recommended that it be revised so trucks can park at multiple locations in town with one permit.
Finally, the board suggested linking the permit process to sales tax payment.
Brian Bottger, co-owner of Only Burger restaurant and food truck in Durham, said he thought the revision to the permitting process is important. He said food trucks like to test out locations before committing, and it would be expensive and complicated to ask truck owners to take out permits for each location.
Bottger also said that he did not think food trucks posed real competition to restaurants, a point that has been controversial.
“They’re two different animals,” he said.
Board member Michael Collins agreed.
“When I want to go downtown to Lantern, I want to go downtown to Lantern,” Collins said. “I’m not going to change my mind because I see a food truck.”
No members of the restaurant business were present at Tuesday’s meeting.
Some food truck owners are unsure whether the new regulations will attract trucks to town.
Carol Edenton, co-owner of Will and Pop’s food truck in Carrboro, said she would love to run in Chapel Hill, but it will depend on the price of the required permits.
“The fact of the matter is that I don’t need Chapel Hill,” Edenton said.
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