PITTSFIELD -- Downtown merchants and others soon will have a chance to weigh in on a proposal to regulate food trucks in the city.
The City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee on Monday reviewed a draft amendment prepared by the Community Development office and presented at the meeting by City Planner C.J. Hoss. After a concerted effort to notify every business owner in the areas where food trucks might be allowed, further public meetings will be held, the committee decided.
"I'm encouraged," said Pamela Tobin, executive director of Downtown Inc., following the meeting. "I think tonight's meeting was a very productive one."
Tobin and several downtown merchants had called for regulation of food trucks after complaints during the summer that trucks had set up close to restaurants. The trucks were said to pose unfair competition for businesses that must pay property taxes and cover the overhead costs of a "bricks and mortar" business.
"I think C.J. [Hoss] put together a pretty good ordinance," said Kathy Lloyd, co-owner of the How We Roll food truck, on Tuesday. "I'm more than happy to have some regulation from the city."
The current version "seems fairly reasonable to me," she said.
The draft amendment to city code that governs hawkers, peddlers and transient vendors specifies where and under what conditions food trucks may operate. Under the draft, food trucks may operate at the following locations: South Street between Park Square and West Housatonic Street; North Street between Maplewood Avenue and Wahconah Street; the east side of North Street in the vicinity of St. Joseph's Church; in a city parking lot with the purchase of a parking permit.
A vendor may apply for use of other locations within the downtown area. Application for locations other than in those specified in the amendment requires a public hearing before the Community Development Board and notification of property owners and businesses within 200 feet of either side of the proposed location.
Outside of the downtown area, vendors cannot set up in the city right-of-way within 50 feet of an existing restaurant unless that business agrees.
As long as a vendor is continuously operating, the vehicle won't be subject to on-street parking time constraints. Food vendors may not, however, park vehicles overnight in a city parking lot or within the public right-of-way.
Other provisions in the draft amendment include:
n A permit is required through the Department of Community Development that includes proposed locations of operation and, if on private property, written permission to set up at the site.
n Vendors using on-street parking spots must pay a fee of $35 per month per space utilized.
n There are required setbacks from driveways, doorways, storefronts, crosswalks, disabled access, bus shelters and fire hydrants.
n No operation is allowed in city parks without permission from the Parks Commission.
n Vendors must provide trash receptacles for customers.
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