By William C. Wadsack | Herald Democrat
Sherman’s regulations on mobile food vendors could soon be changing, as city staff is working on an ordinance that would rewrite the city’s regulations with an eye on bringing a food truck area to the city.
Development Services Director Scott Shadden began looking into the regulations for food trucks at the request of Sherman City Council member Kevin Couch, who said he’d heard requests for the mobile eateries from multiple members of the community.
“This is something they’d like to do in a type of yard that is specifically dedicated to that,” Couch said. “I’ve even talked to downtown restaurant owners about possible competition and they’re excited about it because it just further validates more people coming downtown to a central place to get food. These restaurants are excited to get more people down there.”
In addition to food trucks that park and serve food directly to consumers in a specific designated area, Shadden said the mobile food vendors ordinance would also cover catering trucks and ice cream trucks.
“We’ve reviewed ordinances from several cities from the Metroplex up to this area,” Shadden said. “And we’ve found that a lot of cities require liability insurance and background checks for people operating these trucks. We found that to be a good thing.”
Shadden said Texas and Grayson County each currently have health regulations in place that lay out specifics of how trucks would need to pass inspections and operate their businesses.
“You have to have a commissary to go to each day to clean the vehicle and get ready for the next day,” Shadden said. “I think we ought to add a liability insurance requirement for people serving food to our families, friends and kids. And do a background check as well to make sure everybody passes.”
The city’s development services director said the new ordinance could create a specific use permit for a privately-owned food truck lot in downtown or some other commercial or industrial location where food trucks would gather in the morning and remain until a certain time in the evening. Shadden compared the idea to Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park, which has 5.2 acres of green space built over Woodall Rodgers Freeway and regularly hosts a number of food trucks on its south side.
“It might not be quite that scale, but it’s an idea of how it might be,” Shadden said of a Sherman food truck lot. “In the Dallas area we looked at, people have websites and everything. They may have a $100,000 truck. It’s a big business.”
While some food trucks are tied to existing restaurants, Shadden said those and the ones that aren’t would be required, by state and county regulations, to go back to a commercial location each night.
“The idea is, a landowner would take a parking lot or a vacant lot, whatever the case may be, and he would make a website to get the information out there,” Couch said. “If I had a food truck, I would apply to put my food truck on his lot, pay him a small fee in addition to my city liability insurance, my permit, etc. And we would do business from our truck in a lot that’s specifically dedicated to that.”
City Manager Robby Hefton said the city may also restrict the sale of food on public property in the Central Business District, which Couch said would help protect local vendors from food truck competition out of the Metroplex area.
“One of the points I wanted to drive home was state and local county laws already regulate many of the elements of this — the health and safety elements and permitting and things like that,” Hefton said. “So we would really just be pointing to those regulations that are already in place and then adding a few on top that would be our specific city regulations.”
Shadden said the city’s new ordinance, which will be brought before the council for consideration at an upcoming meeting, could also limit things like how long ice cream trucks can be stopped, but it won’t impact the city’s few current food vendors operating under the existing ordinance.
“Those went in under the current mobile food vendor ordinance,” he said. “They can stay.”
Shadden said seasonal snow cone stands also wouldn’t be effected because they receive temporary use permits from the Planning and Zoning Commission and are permitted through the health department.