CARLISLE — Mobile food vendors could be asked to pay an annual fee of $250 if the first draft of a proposed ordinance gains approval by the borough council.
Sean Shultz, chairman of the borough council’s sustainability and community planning committee, said there is “no hurry” to bring the ordinance to a council vote. The ordinance was presented at a meeting of that committee Wednesday morning.
“It’s a starting point,” said Borough Manager Matt Candland.
The ordinance would allow the vendors to operate in the general industrial zoning district, which is primarily comprised of the warehouse district to the western edge of the borough. Some members of the borough council, however, see the move as a foot in the door for the eventual appearance of the vendors downtown — a move they say raises concerns about the town’s image.
“My concern is that it will creep into downtown eventually and we will be looking at another ordinance,” said councilwoman Linda Cecconello.
Cecconello also said the $250 annual fee wouldn’t be enough to cover the inequity between the responsibilities of the mobile food vendor and the traditional restaurant owner, who pays taxes in the borough.
The draft ordinance defines a mobile food vendor as a “vehicle-mounted food service establishment.” It would require vendors to have a current permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and to gain the written permission of the owners of the private property on which they would operate.
Additional regulations address the size of food trucks, their operating hours, permitted locations, signage and garbage collection. Food vendors would be prohibited from providing customer seating, broadcasting loud music or advertisements and disposing liquid waste or grease in public spaces or into the borough’s sanitary sewer system.
Yearly permits would be required, and would include proof of a valid insurance policy with the borough named as an additional insured party.
The police chief, or his representative, would conduct an investigation concerning the application prior to a permit being issued. Vendors operating in violation of the ordinance could face a fine of $500, with additional penalties for each day the violation exists.
The draft ordinance would not affect food vendors at special events in the borough, such as Farmers on the Square or various street festivals.
No more than 10 active mobile food vendor permits would be allowed in the borough, and would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
Should the ordinance be passed, it may give the borough the ability to enforce a ban on the vendors in downtown areas, even if they are operating on private property.
“The mayor might see this as going backward from the current situation if we start enforcing on private property downtown,” said councilman Don Grell.
As a member of council and the previous chairman of the sustainability and community planning committee, Mayor Tim Scott was a proponent of mobile food carts. Last May, he held a discussion on lifting the food truck ban and announced a roundtable discussion at the committee’s meeting in July. That discussion was ultimately pulled from the agenda since Scott wanted to give borough staff time to research model food truck ordinances.
At the time, Scott also recognized that it would be an uphill battle to overturn the ban because most of his council colleagues supported the ban.
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