LEXINGTON, Ky. (5/24/13)-The Lexington Urban County Council passed the first reading of an ordinance granting a six-month limited pilot program for food trucks to begin serving food on the streets of Fayette County.
The ordinance originates from a long debate over whether or not to allow food trucks to operate on public property. Previously, food trucks were only allowed on private property.
The ordinance would allow food trucks to operate in five zones between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. for two hours at a time. Food trucks could also operate anywhere in Fayette County between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. as long as they are in compliance with zoning ordinances.
However, Director of the Bluegrass Food Truck Association Sean Tibbetts says restrictions included in the ordinance would make the operation of the food trucks more difficult. He spoke at the meeting, asking the council to free the food trucks.
“My truck has a 400 degree griddle in it. It takes a half an hour for it to heat up, and a half an hour for it to cool down. With a two hour parking restriction, if I lose a half an hour on each side, I really only have an hour of service time,” Tibbetts said. “So looking at hiring employees and trying to run multiple operations a day, the budget's just not there. It doesn't make sense with those kinds of restrictions.”
Despite other restrictions that would limit the trucks to operating no less than 100 feet from a residential area or business establishment within its hours of operation, Tibbetts remains optimistic.
“Anytime they are talking about granting access to public property, we are encouraged,” he said. “We want to keep that moving forward. Even the council members and folks that had questions and concerns before voted in favor tonight. That's a good thing.”
Richard Owen, a retired resident of Fayette County also spoke at the meeting. He opposes the measure to allow food trucks to operate on public property. He views food trucks as a type of sign, and says that violates an already established sign ordinance in the county.
“There's obviously an incompatibility as I understand the ordinance,” he said. “Those two need to be in sync somehow. Is the sign ordinance downtown going to be amended? Because in my opinion every single one of those trucks are a sign.”
Owen adds that food trucks will take up an already scarce amount of parking in the downtown area.
“We have such a small, compact downtown,” he said. “Even when I moved here in the ‘70's, parking was a huge issue, and now it's gotten even more so. You have people that want to come downtown for fun, and you have outside visitors that come down here and they're looking for parking places and they can't. It's a multifaceted issue as the council is finding out, and it's not going to be an issue that's going to be easily resolved.”
The second reading of the ordinance will take place during the next regular council meeting. If passed, the pilot period will begin in June and will come under review to establish if food trucks should continue to operate on public property.
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