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Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapel Hill to talk food trucks again, eyes January vote

Posted by on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Update: The Chapel HIll Town Council recessed its meeting at 11:30 p.m. Monday and opted to delay food trucks debate until Nov. 28.

A protracted decision on whether to allow food trucks in Chapel Hill is expected to inch closer tonight as the town council holds another public hearing on proposed rules for mobile food vending.

The council plans to vote Jan. 23 on a draft ordinance change that would clear a path for food trucks. The town has been mulling the issue since September 2010.

Tonight the group wants to know if trailers should be allowed in addition to trucks, what size parking lots should be required, how to make sure tax revenue stays in town, who will enforce the rules and how much it will cost.

Carrboro and Durham have long permitted food trucks and Raleigh and Hillsborough both recently joined the trend.

In Chapel Hill some brick and mortar restaurant owners and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership have raised objections to food trucks coming in, using prime real estate and not paying rent. Others say the town should allow food trucks to support small, local entrepreneurs and provide a different, fun, eating experience for consumers.

In a memo to the council, Town Manager Roger Stancil stated that enforcement is his primary concern because there isn’t enough staff or funding available to ensure that the trucks follow the proposed rules, including being at least 100 feet from the entrance of an existing restaurant, and not taking up needed parking spaces, after hours and on weekends.

Town staff will take the comments and come back to the council with a plan to pay for monitoring.

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