Carnegie tables ordinance to regulate food trucks
Carnegie Council on July 9 tabled an ordinance regulating when, where and how food trucks can operate in the borough following mixed reception by some business owners.
Business owners who attended council’s recent meetings were divided over whether the food trucks would help brick-and-mortar businesses.
“What we need to do, then, is revisit this one more time,” Council Vice President Phil Boyd said.
Food trucks and other mobile vendors currently fall under the borough’s ordinance on transient merchant vendors, a term that Solicitor Nate Boring said applies more to door-to-door salesmen of yesteryear.
A draft ordinance prepared by Boring and obtained by The Signal Item gave food trucks and other mobile vendors a distinct definition in addition to laying out a permitting process for their owners.
Food truck operators would need to apply for a permit from the borough at least 45 days in advance of their desired dates of operation at a cost of $50 per day.
The default location for the trucks stated in the draft was the borough’s East Main Street parking lot, although members of council suggested it be changed to the parking lot near Family Dollar.
Other location requests could be submitted for approval at the borough manager’s discretion. Based on the current ordinance, only four trucks would be permitted in the borough per day, and none would be permitted to operate within 150 feet of a brick-and-mortar business of a “substantially similar kind.”
Susan McMahon, co-owner of Bakn, said during the meeting that food trucks would have an unfair advantage over Main Street restaurants because of their lower cost of operation. McMahon also argued that the ordinance as prepared would violate existing zoning codes that prohibit fast food establishments from doing business in districts one and two, as well as an ordinance barring distilleries from serving food without a permit.
“We are here to protect our business. We are not here to argue with you. I do not want to enter into a lawsuit, but I’m willing to do that because we’re going to protect our investment,” McMahon said.
Council members said during the meeting that their goal is not to harm brick-and-mortar businesses, but to support them by drawing visitors into the borough.
“We’re trying to make it something that helps our businesses, protects our businesses and makes it desirable for other people to come into the Carnegie community,” Councilwoman Regina Popichak said.
Carnegie Community Development Corporation Executive Director Joanne Letcher said having multiple dining options in the borough is important for an event such as the monthly Carnegie Crawl in light of the closure of PaPa J’s Ristorante.
“We are hearing stories of people actually leaving Carnegie during the crawl because there’s nowhere to eat,” she said. “People are stopping me in the street saying, ‘I hope you have food trucks for the next crawl because a lot of us left.’”
Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.