By Jennifer Browman | Battle Creek
A year and a half after making changes to local law, food trucks in a portion of downtown Battle Creek seem to be rolling smoothly.
City commissioners voted unanimously at their regular meeting Tuesday to take the first step to eliminate an expiration provision that would have stopped allowing food trucks to operate after this year. It was put into place when commissioners allowed the mobile vendors last year to allow staff to evaluate the impact of food trucks.
The change will be made final when commissioners vote at a subsequent meeting for adoption.
Assistant City Manager for Community and Economic Development Ted Dearing said staff reviews only found an issue with the designated spaces on Jackson Street. Some farmers market vendors found the spaces useful for loading but they are reserved for mobile vendors, he said.
“All in all, the feedback went very well,” Dearing said during the meeting Tuesday. “We had the appropriate amount of spaces, and as long as we maintain flexibility in case our permits go up and that we can restore vendor spaces, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Four vendors have obtained licenses to operate downtown since the ordinance was passed in July 2014, according to the city clerk’s office. They are the result of a months-long debate on whether to allow the food trucks downtown, the only area of the city where they were not allowed.
While some supported food trucks to expand dining options in the city, downtown restaurant owners were strongly opposed because of what they said was unfair competition and not a market too small to support all the businesses.
“It seems as though that restaurant owners have come around and are supportive of this,” Commissioner Mark Behnke said during the meeting. “And I think it’s just remarkable.”
Up to seven vendors can operate on Jackson between Capital Avenue and McCamly Street under the ordinance. It does not include food trucks on Festival Market Square during the farmers market, as it is considered a special event.