Food trucks could be coming to Wellington and officials want to ensure mobile vendors are regulated.
Village council discussed the issue June 4 after Kait Shipman, a food truck proprietor from Huntington Township, reached out about operating in Wellington.
As it stands, no village laws or ordinances pertaining to food trucks exist.
Council has drafted food truck rules modeled after the ones already passed to control the use of sidewalk cafes. Cafe owners must obtain a “temporary store” license good for a week to four months.
Proposed legislation calls on owners to pay $50 for a single-event permit or $100 for a multi-event permit that would expire at the end of each calendar year.
“I think there’s a lot more discussion we want to go through,” said mayor Hans Schneider. “That’s what we do, talk these kinds of things out. There needs to be some kind of regulation to it. A food truck is different than a sidewalk cafe because the people who have the cafe, like Bread N Brew, are operating in front of their store. A food truck is a mobile entity that wants to come in that doesn’t particularly have a home here in the community. What restrictions will they have as far as garbage, clean-up, and that kind of stuff? I’m confident council will find the best solution for everyone.”
Law director Steve Bond said concerns from business owners over a food truck potentially cutting into their profits cannot be used as a deterrent.
“There are court cases that say you cannot protect a local business at the expense of others,” he said. “If it’s not this lady who’s contacted us, it will be someone else with a liberal-minded lawyer who wants to make a point. They’ll say we can’t treat certain people favorably and others unfavorably. Come up with a rule, whatever you want it to be, and apply it to everyone.”
The proposed food truck ordinance says a “preferable” location for the businesses would be on private, non-residential property and that permits would be denied if a truck would significantly obstruct a public way, impair the movement of pedestrians or traffic, or pose any other threat to public safety.
Food truck permits would not be transferable under any circumstances. A permit could be suspended if a food truck is located in a right of way that is needed for a public event, construction, repair, or any other public purpose.
Trucks would also have to provide their own means for disposing of trash and leave a public right of way outside of its hours of operation.
The issue is on the agenda for July’s council committee meeting, said village manager Steve Dupee.
Food trucks have caused consternation in other Lorain County towns as well.
Oberlin took a hard-line stance against food trucks after months of discussion, banning them from operating on public property. The decision had a side effect of outlawing ice cream trucks.
Amherst placed a moratorium on food trucks last summer; it is now expiring. That measure doesn’t completely ban trucks but prohibits them from using combustible fuel or setting up shop on public property within 15 feet of any building or parked vehicle — which makes it effectively impossible for mobile vendors to do business in any commercial district.
The food truck industry has grown at an annual rate of eight percent since 2011 and roughly 4,000 trucks are open for business nationally.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, counties that have embraced food trucks have also seen growth in their brick and mortar restaurant and catering businesses.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.