“It gives us a place to start,” Boyd Sossamon, chairman of the Sylva Planning Board, said of the ordinance. “As they go on this could be adjusted later if needed. It gives a base so there are some controls there.”
Currently, Sylva has nothing on the books that’s specific to food trucks. Instead, it regulates the growing number of trucks and carts under its general business ordinance, requiring that they adhere to the same setback and parking space regulations as brick-and-mortar businesses.
There hasn’t been a problem with that system, but the town wanted to prevent encountering the sort of controversy in which Waynesville found itself last year. Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop and Beer Garden, which has since closed to change locations, served food from a trailer parked permanently on the lawn adjacent to the building, leading the Waynesville Planning Board to revise its rules with the stated intent of protecting brick-and-mortar restaurants and town aesthetics — but Mad Anthony’s felt the impending changes took aim at its very livelihood.
Sylva’s proposed ordinance would require food truck owners to get a permit every six months. A $45 zoning permit would also be required to ensure commercial activity is permissible in the location they plan to use, as well as a special permit for vendors who want to sell food at town events.
The ordinance also addresses health concerns, requiring approval from the Jackson County Health Department before any food is sold and requiring the health permit and inspection rating to be “visibly displayed.” All trash and grease spills would be cleaned up daily.
Safety concerns figure prominently in the ordinance as well.
“For instance they need to make sure where they’re parked there’s public safety with people accessing the food trucks, so they’re not parked where they might get run over by a car,” Sossamon said. “Basic concerns is really what we’re shooting for.”
All food trucks must be at least 15 feet away from fire hydrants and not parked on a public street, parking space or sidewalk, according to the proposed ordinance. However, vendors can park on public property if the town board gives permission. If parked on private property, the ordinance says, the owner must provide written consent.
Other stipulations in the proposed ordinance include a requirement for food truck owners to carry liability insurance.
The proposed ordinance contains many similarities to the one Waynesville adopted in June 2016 — vendors must get written permission to park on private property, display their Health Department permit and have no more than one external sign with their business.
However, there are differences as well. Waynesville’s food truck permits are good for only three months, compared to the six-month permits proposed in Sylva’s ordinance. Waynesville’s ordinance also requires food trucks to park at least 50 feet from an existing restaurant and to have an agreement with property owners or sponsoring businesses that allows food truck employees to use their restrooms.
A public hearing on Sylva’s proposed food truck ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 13, at the Sylva Municipal Hall on 83 Allen Street.