By ZEINAB NAJM
RIVERVIEW— The City Council continued its discussion on a proposed ordinance for mobile food vending units — or food trucks — to be allowed to operate within city limits.
The city does not have an ordinance pertaining to businesses of that type.
The ordinance would establish rules and regulations for locations, times, and other restrictions. It also would establish a fee structure for these vendors.
During a March 8 study session the council received additional information and answers to questions brought up a previous meetings and sessions.
Councilwoman Sussie O’Neil asked the council to remove the food truck ordinance from the agenda March 1 because she had additional questions for which she wanted answers.
The second reading of the ordinance was set to take place at that meeting.
City Manager Douglas Drysdale said he spoke with O’Neil regarding her questions which included the number of permits allowed.
At the beginning of the study session, the ordinance mentioned five permits allowed per month per 30-day period. O’Neil was concerned that if one company comes in for a permit but only uses it once on the first of the month then that permit would be tied up for the rest of the month whether it is used or not.
City Clerk Cindy Hutchison and Community Development Director Dave Scurto reviewed similar ordinances from other cities that allow food trucks to help draft the ordinance.
Scurto was asked to contact some of the communities Riverview modeled its ordinance off of which are Grosse Ile Township, Grand Blanc, Dimondale. Each has a similar downtown to Riverview.
In Grosse Ile, its challenge was with finding locations for food trucks, since businesses didn’t want them downtown, and determining a fee structure.
Dimondale has a 15-permit limit per month which have to be applied for 90 days in advance. Scurto said the city found out that local businesses are bringing in a food truck order to help with food delivery.
Also in its ordinance is a spacing requirement of 200 feet between vehicles because the Dimondale downtown is set up with mostly street parking.
Grand Blanc has had food truck success for city sponsored events in comparison to license applications. The city has two restrictions for food trucks they are looking to change, one which only allows food trucks to one street in the city that doesn’t have great foot traffic; and food trucks cannot park or operate on private property.
Drysdale suggested the city revise the ordnance to remove the 200-foot distance between vehicle’s because that doesn’t apply to Riverview’s downtown.
He also said he is open to raising the numbers of permits issued.
“The other thought we had, which is a little more work on our end would be to not have a number on the number of permits but only allow a certain amount of food trucks to be operating on a per day basis,” Drysdale said. “It would be a reservation type thing where anybody can buy a permit, pay for it, but they have to call us and notify which days they are going to be doing it and if they don’t, kind of similar to a what a doctor’s office does — get penalized for it.”
Councilman Chuck Norton asked if the number of food trucks doesn’t include city events or schools, but only private property and businesses.
“Under special events, the city can determine how many they want to allow there,” Drysdale said. “Any school- or government-sponsored mobile food vending unit operating on school or government property is exempt from the food truck permit. They still need to have electrical and or mechanical inspections done for safety reasons.
At the end of the discussion, Norton suggested a permit limit of 10 to start which could be adjusted by the city.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])