Low­ell plan­ners OK food truck plan

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - ALEXAN­DER NI­COLL

LOW­ELL — The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Mon­day unan­i­mously ap­proved a new or­di­nance that would al­low mul­ti­ple food trucks to op­er­ate in the same lo­ca­tion, which would pave the way for the city to house mo­bile food vend­ing parks.

The com­mis­sion voted 6-0 in fa­vor of the or­di­nance but only on the ba­sis cer­tain changes to the or­di­nance it dis­cussed in the meet­ing were met.

The first change would be to in­crease the min­i­mum num­ber of park­ing spots for each food truck from two to three.

The sec­ond change would be to in­crease the du­ra­tion of the per­mit from six months to a year. City staff and com­mis­sion­ers were split on whether to change it, with pro­po­nents on each side cit­ing dif­fer­ent rea­sons for wanted a six­month or year­long per­mit.

Com­mis­sion chair­man James Mil­ner said he liked the idea of the per­mit only last­ing six months be­cause that would give ven­dors time to “do what they do, clean up their site and come back a year later and reap­ply.”

The com­mis­sion opened up the floor to the few food ven­dors and own­ers in at­ten­dance to re­ceive their in­put on what they thought would be a good num­ber of park­ing spa­ces to have and the idea of a one-year per­mit ver­sus a

six-month one.

There was a gen­eral con­sen­sus two park­ing spots were not enough but no num­ber could be agreed on un­til Mil­ner sug­gested three. Ven­dors and own­ers also were in sup­port of a year­long per­mit.

One of the ven­dors, Hutch Pre­ston, who owns and op­er­ates Pupp’s BBQ food truck, said he wanted the one-year per­mit to pro­vide more se­cu­rity for him and his fam­ily.

“I don’t want to have to find some­where else in six months,” Pre­ston said.

“If I can’t sign a year lease, then I’m go­ing to have to worry in six months what I’m go­ing to do to sup­port my fam­ily.”

Over­all, he said he was pretty happy with the com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion to ap­prove the or­di­nance. Pre­ston said he op­er­ates in Low­ell oc­ca­sion­ally but usu­ally drives six hours to Smack­over be­cause that’s where he finds a lot of his busi­ness.

The city al­lows a sin­gle food truck to op­er­ate on any

com­mer­cial lot now.

The third would be to clar­ify some of the lan­guage in a sec­tion of the or­di­nance that de­scribes the con­di­tions that would need to be met be­fore some­one would have to get a per­mit to op­er­ate a park in the city.

Mil­ner said he thought the word­ing of the sec­tion could be in­ter­preted that park own­ers could only have two food trucks on their prop­erty when the in­tended mean­ing of it was that if an owner wanted to have two or more food trucks on their prop­erty, they would have to get a per­mit first.

The or­di­nance will be de­cided on by the City Coun­cil tonight but if it passes, it will not take af­fect un­til 30 days later, said Kris Sul­li­van, who is the city’s plan­ning and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor.

Mayor El­don Long said he had no prob­lem re­view­ing the or­di­nance a year later to go over what is work­ing or not work­ing and al­low the com­mis­sion to tweak it to how it sees fit.

“It’s a great thing try­ing to meet what the com­mu­nity wants by pro­vid­ing this ser­vice,” Long said.

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