Linden City Council passed a mobile food vehicle vending ordinance on Monday, May 24.
The vote comes 23 weeks after the council adopted a moratorium on food trucks in the city. In the last few months, the council has had multiple discussions on how food trucks should operate in the city.
City Manager Ellen Glass said they incorporated most or all of the feedback from the last meeting.
This ordinance does not pertain to food vendors operating at public or community events approved by the City Council prior to the event, and it doesn’t apply to outdoor food sales operated by an existing brick and mortar restaurant on the same site as that restaurant.
The ordinance requires food vendor operators to apply for a permit and pay a fee for regular vending. Existing brick and mortar restaurants will not have to pay a fee to operate a mobile food vehicle in the city.
A private business can apply for a special event permit to invite a food truck. With this type of permit, multiple rules in this ordinance do not apply. The city can approve special event permits for one day only.
The ordinance states, “No special event may be conducted within a public street or other property owned by the city of Linden without approval from the City Council … No special event permit may be issued to the same individual, business or institution and/or for the same property more frequently than once every sixty (60) days.”
The city may require a submitted plan for where and how a food vendor would operate in relation to existing driveways, lanes, parking areas and walkways.
Except for special events, food vendors cannot operate in a public street or area or on private property without permission from the owner. Vendors operating on private property can only operate on property zoned LS, GC, or CBD District.
Previously, the council discussed not allowing food vendors to operate within 500 feet of existing brick and mortar restaurants while that restaurant was open. This has been revised. The current ordinance states except for special events, vendors operating on private land shall not operate within 250 feet of an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant during the hours when such restaurant is open to the public for business.
The ordinance includes these regulations for all mobile food vendors:
• Mobile food vendors cannot cause unreasonable or excessive noise, such as loud music, other high-decibel sounds, horns, or amplified announcements.
• No mobile food vehicle vendor shall operate between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., April through September, and between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m., October through March.
• In addition to signage placed on mobile food vehicles, one A-frame sign may be permitted during operating hours.
• No flashing or blinking lights or strobe lights are allowed on mobile food vehicles or related signage when the vehicle is parked and engaged in serving customers.
Read the full ordinance at lindenmi.us.
Linden attorney Michael Gildner wrote a letter to the council about concerns raised from a letter they received from the Institute for Justice that raised issues with the mobile food vending ordinance.
The Institute had concerns with the 500-foot rule, and Gildner suggested they do 250 feet instead to “level the playing field,” he wrote. The Institute claimed that mobile vendors should be able to operate on any private property, but Gildner said vendors are for commercial use and the city has limits in particular zoning districts.
The last issue raised by the Institute was that the city’s proposed ordinance gave a “privilege” to religions and charities. Gildner said this later version does not do this.
Councilor Aaron Wiens asked for clarification on the differences between a special event permit and regular vending. He asked if Ace Hardware wanted to have a taco truck on Friday, would that be a special event or regular vending?
Gildner said the business would be allowed to request the special event permit. If the taco truck wishes to use the parking lot for business, they would have to get permission from Ace, make sure they’re not within 250 feet of an existing restaurant during operation hours and they would need a yearly permit from the city.