Food trucks get green light in Jasper


JASPER — The hearts of Jasper foodies will soon be full. Food trucks will be free to set up shop at various locations throughout Jasper in less than two weeks.

Wednesday night, the Jasper Common Council approved a robust ordinance that facilitates the permitting of mobile food vendors to sell their grub in the city. The legislation will go into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

“The ordinance is gonna provide the community access to diverse food sources,” Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said after Wednesday’s meeting, adding that food trucks are a low-cost entry into the local food scene. “If they establish themselves well with a food truck, then they sometimes have brick and mortar, and they’ll invest in the community — especially if the market’s there for them.”

That ordinance defines a mobile food vehicle as a “self-contained food establishment that is on wheels, self-propelled or moved by an engine, weighs no more than sixteen thousand (16,000) pounds, and for which the primary purpose of the vehicle is the sale and/or production of food.” This means trailers and other vehicles that do not meet this description are not permitted.

Mobile food vendors are prohibited from operating or parking on any property owned and maintained by the city between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., but special requests can be made for vendors wanting to operate during restricted hours.

Otherwise, the vendors will be allowed to operate in the following areas:

• The Dave Buehler Plaza parking lots at Third Avenue and Fourth Street.

• Parking spaces on the Courthouse Square, after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during normally permitted hours on weekends.

• Parking spaces on Seventh Street through Ninth Street between Newton Street and Jackson Street, after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during normally permitted hours on weekends.

• The William Schroeder Soccer Complex parking lot — located at 405 W. Second St. — excluding Sundays during April, May, August, September and October.

• The Jasper Farmers Market, upon completion and submission of executed vendor agreement and payment.

• On private property that is zoned business or industrial, with written consent of the property owner.

• The city also has the authority to designate other locations of permitted operation for special events.

Mobile vendors who plan on revving up their friers and dishing out foods in Jasper will need to obtain not only a mobile food vendor permit, but also a Dubois County Health Department permit and both transient merchant and door-to-door solicitors licenses from the city.

Those operating on property owned and maintained by the city will also be required to provide a certificate of liability that insures the applicant and names the City of Jasper as additional insured against liabilities. More restrictions are also part of the ordinance, and fines will be assessed to any operations violating the rules it spells out.

Vonderheide said people have been talking about the ordinance for a long time. He believes it will provide a great way to test the local market for foods that might not be sold here already, and also said it will give the city the flexibility to have festivals, picnics or other events that cause the trucks to flock to Jasper.

“We want to attract them,” he said. “We want them to see Jasper as an opportunity that they’re investing their time and resources into. They’ve got a minimal investment just to come to Jasper for a few days, a month or a year. But they’re coming.”

The common council also:

• Held a public hearing regarding additional appropriations for 2019. No comments were made. An ordinance that both adds and reduces appropriations for 2019 was then approved.

• Held a public hearing regarding the 2020 civil city budget. No comments were made. The first reading of an ordinance that appropriates money for the 2020 budget was then held and approved. The budget is currently valued at $23,038,230.

• Approved the first reading of the 2020 budget’s advertised property tax rate, which is 1.1099. That rate will likely fall when it is finalized by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance based on property assessments. The advertised rate for the 2019 budget, for example, was 1.0722, but the actual rate was 0.85.

• Approved amending the bond ordinance to reallocate the Jasper River Centre projects. A special council meeting regarding those bonds was scheduled for 8 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, in the council chambers at City Hall, 610 Main St.
Approved an ordinance eliminating the political party affiliation requirements for members of the Jasper Utility Service Board and stormwater management board.

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