Proposed ordinance allows mobile food vendors


JASPER — The City of Jasper took a step closer to establishing a mobile food vendor ordinance on Monday night, when a draft of the legislation was presented at the Jasper Common Council’s monthly meeting.

That draft’s language would allow for the operation of food vending push carts, as well as self-contained food establishments that are on wheels, are self-propelled or moved by an engine, and weigh no more than 16,000 pounds.

The working document was assembled by Jasper City Hall interns Samantha Kabrick and Logan Bromm, who have spent about a month researching other communities’ ordinances and writing what they feel best fits Jasper.

“Whatever we adopt, we’ll learn from it,” Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said near the end of Monday’s meeting. “We’ll adjust as we go. But, I think, as some people have told me, they’re excited [about] the fact we’re actually addressing it and getting something [in] place.”

The city’s current municipal code does not address the regulation of mobile food vending. Per the draft, prospective mobile vendors would be required to acquire a permit from the city, and they would also have to hold a transient merchant and door-to-door solicitors license.

With those documents, the vendors would be allowed to set up shop at four, centrally-located sites: the Dave Buehler Plaza parking lots on Third Avenue and Fourth Street; the parking spaces on the Courthouse Square, after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during normally-permitted hours on weekends; the parking spaces on Seventh through Ninth streets between the boundaries of Newton Street and Jackson Street, after 5 p.m .on weekdays and during normally-permitted hours on weekends; and at the William Schroeder Soccer Complex parking lot.

Mobile food vendors would also be able to make special requests to operate at other locations owned and maintained by the City of Jasper. The city would have the authority to designate other times of permitted operation for special events.
With written consent of property owners, vendors could also operate on private property that is zoned for business or industrial use.

In her part of the presentation, Kabrick detailed the positive impact the booming mobile food service industry can bring to a community. A mutual gain exists between food vendors and local businesses, she said, explaining that those businesses bring customers to the food vendors and vice versa.

Allowing the trucks could also facilitate the creation of more jobs. Because of the low cost and barriers to entry, it is enticing for people to enter the industry, Kabrick said.

After the interns’ presentation, council members discussed potential overcrowding at the designated locations, as well as the effects mobile vendors could have on brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“We have a lot of great restaurants in Jasper, and for us to keep growing those restaurants and stuff like that, we need to make sure that the food trucks ... it’s fair competition,” said Councilman Phil Mundy.

Kabrick explained that she and Bromm took those traditional restaurants into account by limiting how close the mobile vendors can park to them and restricting the vendors’ hours of operation in certain locations.

After the meeting, City Attorney Renee Kabrick explained that the discussed mobile food vendor ordinance would not apply to stationary food trailers like the Taqueria El Llano taco trailer, which formerly operated at the corner of Third and Main streets.

Ice cream trucks, caterers, food delivery drivers, and other food service vehicles that do not park or locate in any one place for longer than 10 minutes would be exempt from the ordinance, as would lemonade stands, bake sales, and other stands operated by children for the purpose of selling homemade foods.

Renee Kabrick said the intent is for a final version of the document to be brought to the council’s August meeting, which is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, in the council chambers at city hall, 610 Main St.

The council also:

• Held the first reading of an ordinance that revises wastewater rates and charges. Overall, the proposed new rate for the average residential customer who uses approximately 5,000 gallons of flow would compute to $38.76 per month — or an increase of $1.19 per month. The ordinance will be up for final approval during the council’s next meeting.

• Heard a Utility Service Board report from General Utilities Manager Bud Hauersperger. On Monday, the board awarded the bid for a manhole rehabilitation project, heard that most of the old power plant has been deconstructed, approved a Beaver Lake dam and spillway inspection, re-approved a new agreement with Ireland Water, and recommended the wastewater rate changes to the common council.

• Held the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of several series of bonds for the River Center LLC project, which is part of the city’s riverfront allocation area. The first reading of the ordinance was then approved, and the second and third reading will take place at the council’s August meeting. A public hearing will also be held at a Jasper Economic Development Commission meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the council chambers at city hall.

• Heard a presentation by representatives from Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group and Midwestern Engineers, two organizations who helped construct the city’s new comprehensive plan. The document — which will serve as a guide and was created with input from community members — is available for viewing at The Jasper Plan Commission will become the first local government board to consider the plan following a public hearing at the group’s meeting next month, and if the commission agrees to recommend it and push it along, the document will come before the council for adoption in August.

• Approved amending the city and utility salary ordinances to allow a department to temporarily overlap positions for training purposes.

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