By Lynn Moore | MLive.com
MUSKEGON, MI — A plan to make it easier for mobile food vendors to operate in downtown Muskegon will be before city commissioners when they meet Tuesday, March 24.
The commissioners will consider cutting in half the licensing fee, reducing the distance vendors have to stay away from “brick and mortar” restaurants and increasing the amount of time they can remain parked in one place.
The commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. March 24 in the commission chambers at city hall, 933 Terrace St.
The city last year adopted a mobile food vending ordinance to allow for the trendy grab-and-go meal option for downtown and other locations throughout the city. The ordinance covers motorized food vehicles, food trailers and food stands.
City staff now want to tweak that ordinance to encourage more of the food vendors by:
- Reducing the license fee from $300 to $150.
- Allowing the trucks to be parked within 50 feet of a restaurant. That’s significantly less than the current 150 feet.
- Increasing the amount of time they can remain parked in one place from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
“They seem real successful,” said Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson. “We didn’t have a lot of them, but we’d like more of them.”
He said owners of Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. have expressed interest in having more of the mobile food vendors near their location on West Western Avenue.
In addition to providing more food options for customers, the mobile food vending allows a vendor to test out the market before investing in a restaurant, city officials have said. Whistle Punk Pizza is one such operation that started as a mobile food vendor at the Muskegon Farmer’s Market and now also has a restaurant at 1133 Third St.
Self-contained food trucks that stay in place less than 30 minutes, such as ice cream trucks, are not subject to the ordinance or its license fee.
More relaxed regulations would impact the Bella Dawg hot dog cart, which has a proposed contract to operate at city parks, including Pere Marquette beach, on Tuesday’s agenda. If approved, the revised mobile food vendor ordinance would allow the cart to operate within 50 feet of the existing concession stand at the beach — a location owner Bella Dawg owner Steve Hamstra had desired, Peterson said.
Hamstra also is seeking a 50-foot separation between other mobile concessionaires. The city would receive 10 percent of sales, under the proposed contract.
The city expects to sign contracts with other mobile food vendors to operate at the city beach, said Mohammed Al-Shatel, the city’s public works director.