With little debate, two ordinances that would allow for the more widespread presence of food trucks in Brentwood were approved on first reading at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night.
All commissioners voted in favor of the the ordinances, which still have to pass further stages of approval before becoming law.
As of now, food trucks are not allowed in parts of the city that are zoned for strictly commercial use, like Maryland Farms, or in residential areas. Food trucks are currently allowed at organized events at places like schools and churches, but usually only after securing a special permit from the Planning Commission.
The ordinances under consideration would change that. One would alter the city’s zoning laws to authorize food trucks in places like Maryland Farms. It would also make food trucks a “permitted use” in other areas, meaning that independent organizations and homeowner’s associations could have a limited number of food trucks at city-approved special events without having to get a permit.
The other ordinance lays out the regulations that food trucks would have to follow in order to legally operate in Brentwood.
These include various health and safety standards, as well as things like the $50 annual fee that food truck owners would have to pay to the city for a permit to sell food here and the permission that food truck owners would have to get from property owners to set up shop outside an office building.
City Attorney Roger Horner described the specifics of the ordinances in a presentation to the board and explained a little bit of background on why they were drawn up.
“We haven’t addressed this before,” he said. “If you look at mobile food vending in the municipal code now, you don’t find it because they just weren’t a factor in the past. But as this segment of the economy has grown in recent years, and we’ve seen how other communities have dealt with it, we’ve got some ideas about how we can deal with it in Brentwood.”
The commissioners appeared receptive to the food truck plan, and debate, consequently, was minimal. Commissioner Anne Dunn had a back and forth with City Manager Kirk Bednar about how the ordinances would deal with events held in public parks, but that, for the most part, was about it.
Commissioner Ken Travis thanked city staff for the effort that they put in to produce such a complete proposal.
“We went from nothing a few months ago to really a comprehensive set of documents,” he said about the “well thought out plan.”
A possible note of caution regarding the food truck plan came from Mayor Regina Smithson. Although she voted in favor of approval, Smithson said it was important that commissioners try to gauge the impact that the ordinances would have, if passed, on brick and mortar restaurants that pay local taxes. As previously reported, food trucks pay taxes where they are registered, not where they operate.
“I encourage us to keep a close eye on it if it does pass,” Smithson said.