Local/State

Public weighs in on Durham food trucks

Monday, July 09, 2012

Durham city leaders are cooking up new restrictions for food trucks in the Bull City.

At a public hearing Monday night, many vendors were left with a bad taste in their mouth over most, if not all of the proposals under consideration.

Many food truck operators said they don't understand why the new rules are necessary.

"It's not broke. It doesn't need to be fixed," said Don Moffitt, of Durham's Central Market

That was a common thought from dozens who squeezed into City Hall. It was standing room only as people gathered to hear more about the new, proposed food truck rules.

"I filtered through the many email responses that I received," said Grace Smith, with the Durham Planning Department.

After a year of research and email feedback, the city came up with new rules that could establish buffer zones around the farmer's market, which is traditionally a food truck friendly area, and limit parking.

They could also require trucks, carts and pop up stands to park at least 50 feet away from an existing restaurant and 300 feet from permitted special events.

"Will there be an economic impact study of what might perhaps be the negative impact on the food trucks with the 300 foot provision and the parking provision," said Deirdre Haj, with Full Frame.

The city said the proposal consolidates existing rules governing mobile vending and improve pedestrian and public safety.

Many in the audience with Durham's Alliance for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship believed they are getting slighted.

"Essentially what they do is create two classes of restaurants in the eyes of the law and discriminate against the other," said Nick Johnson, with The Cookery.

Mayor Bill Bell and Councilman Mike Woodard expressed support for mobile vendors as the city now weighs input from the hearing.

"We're going to find a way to make this work for both industries," said Bell.

The city plans to compile Monday night's feedback and will take it into consideration. City officials said the new rules could go into effect as early as this fall.

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durham county, local/state, fred shropshire
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