The Vandalia City Council is now ready to act on an ordinance for mobile food vendors licenses, one in which the distance between vendors and restaurants has been greatly reduced.
The distance issue was the reason for a council work session on Monday, with Mayor Rick Gottman saying he had further studied that issue.
The ordinance before the council last Monday set the distance between food trucks or other mobile food vendors and restaurants at 500 feet.
Alderman Steve Barker recommended lowering that amount to 100 feet, and Gottman offered a recommendation of 150 feet.
During Monday’s council work session, the mayor said that he had gone downtown a few days before to mark off distances from The Copper Penny in the 100 block of South Fourth Street.
Gottman said he measured off 10 feet, 25 feet, 50 feet and 100 feet, and met with Amy Gaffney, The Copper Penny owner, while doing those measurements.
“If you look at 50 (feet) and 100 (feet), there is no way,” Gottman said, talking about how those distances would not allow food vendors to be parked south of The Copper Penny in that block.
“Twenty-five feet,” he said, “is really cutting it short.”
Gottman said he spoke with both Gaffney and Amy O’Dell of O’Dell’s Family Favorites, a food truck currently operating near Charters Patio in that block on Fridays, Saturdays and during special events.
During that discussion, the three agreed that 10-12 feet a suitable distance between restaurants and food trucks.
Specifically mentioning Charters Patio, Gottman said, “We need to leave an emergency exit if something happened on that patio, to be able to get out or for an ambulance (crew) to be able to get a cot in there.”
The 10-12-foot distancing, Gottman said, would allow two vendors to be south of The Copper Penny along the west side of that block.
If there are more than two vendors, he said, those vendors would have to be on the other side of the street.
As a way of showing that they support each other and work well togther, Gaffney and O’Dell posted a video on Facebook last week.
Gottman said that the city wants to accommodate all food vendors, “but whoever it is has to meet the same criteria (set by the ordinance).”
Gottman said that he would be asking Public Works Director Marlin Filer to put on the street lines marking the spots for food vendors according to a 10-foot spacing requirement.
During the discussion, city sales taxes being collected from food vendors came up, and Gottman asked O’Dell whether her residence at the lake area is within city limits.
O’Dell said that the city owns properties right along the lake spots, “so, I literally live like one or two property off of the actual lake frontage out there.
“The city wants city taxes and I understand that – I’m definitely willing to do that,” she said.
“You have my word on this – that I’ll have to hire an accountant to figure out what the (sales tax) form is to make sure the city is getting their taxes,” O’Dell said.
During the discussion, O’Dell said that she and her husband plan to set up their food truck in the Vandalia Lake marina area for the Vandalia Lions Club’s fireworks display on Friday, July 3, with half of their proceeds being donated to the Lions for the fireworks.
Asked if anyone had a problem with that, aldermen said that they did not, and Gottman said that other food vendors could also set up at the marina that night.
The ordinance covers wheeled or towed vehicles, including food carts, food trucks and ice cream trucks.
A mobile food vendor license is required for anyone selling food for human consumption, except for:
• City-sponsored special events where a fee is required or assessed.
• Private catered events held on private property when there are no sales to the general public.
• Other special events by resolution or majority vote of he city council.
Mobile food vendors are required to be permitted by the Fayette County Health Department and subject to state and county health codes, and are subject to inspections.
A food vendor license is for one year, with the fee being $300.
Temporary vendor licenses will be available for city-approved or -sponsored special events for up to four consecutive days, with the fee being $100.
Mobile food units are to be allowed only in permitted locations or with permission of a private property owner.
Units are not to obstruct a public way, impair movement of vehicles or pedestrians or pose a hazard to public safety, and cannot park, stand or operate within 500 feet of the address point of a restaurant, unless it is affiliated with that restaurant. (Aldermen discussed changing that distance to 100 or 150 feet.)
The administrator of food vendor licenses is to prepare a map showing areas that are suitable for mobile food unit operations, and to have that map available on the city website.
Hours of operation for mobile food units are limited to 7 a.m.-10 p.m., except for special events covered in the ordinance.