Board debates food trucks' location, hours and proximity

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By Caroline Serritella
The Meridian Times

If you were a restaurant owner, would you want a food truck right next to you? Do you believe it would take away business? Or do you believe that part of the food industry is no threat at all?

On Oct. 20 the Meridian Township Board discussed future jobs that will benefit the community

According to The Wall Street Journal, cities such as Chicago, Boston, Seattle and St. Louis are beginning to enforce laws stating that there has to be a certain amount of distance between an established restaurant and a food truck that serves during similar hours.

“I see a truck being placed on a lot adjacent to the sidewalk so that there’s lots of foot traffic going back and forth rather than having a place someone needs to drive to and the community is not that busy,” Treasurer Julie Brixie said.

A common problem when it comes to food trucks is not only the location, but distance between trucks. Trustee Ronald Styka said that when it comes to larger lots such as Meridian Mall and special events, there must be at least 50 feet between trucks.

Some trustees said hours should be based off the menu. For example, if the menu is breakfast-based, the hours should be during the day rather than afternoon or night. Others disagreed, saying not all trucks are meal-based.

“I think hours depend more on where the truck’s located rather than who it’s by or what their menu is. I believe 7 a.m to 10 p.m. is a reasonable time due to odor … and noise that can disrupt neighbors,” Brixie said.

On Oct. 21, board members agreed that the license for the truck owners would last 120 days. With those days, they can either stay in a place where they feel comfortable or find another location. After 120 days, they have the option to either re-sign or not.

“I don’t want to get in between where I tell people they can and cannot do their business, but I do feel that trucks who stay in the same location for a long period of time should have some equity rights,” Trustee Angela Wilson said.

Equity rights raised another issue among the board, especially when it comes to taxes that neighboring restaurants pay.

“A mobile unit doesn’t face the taxes an established restaurant pays, which is frustrating when it comes to fellow restaurant owners who are paying those expenses,” Wilson said.

“I believe food trucks can and will be beneficial to the Meridian Township community and can thrive on business if put in proper locations,” Trustee Milton Scales said.

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