By Steve Zucker | Petoskey-News
BOYNE CITY — During the next several weeks, the Boyne City City Commission will continue its discussion of how food service trucks should be regulated in the city.
At its most recent meeting on March 25, the commission heard a report on the input city staff have gleaned so far from the public on the issue of food trucks in the community from surveys distributed at several public information sessions.
In all, 67 people returned surveys at two public information sessions, a Lions Club meeting and a Main Street Board meeting. Among the surveys, 16 were from Boyne City High School government class students who happened to be in attendance at the Main Street Board meeting.
Some of the data highlighted for the commission included:
— More than half (64 percent) of the respondents were Boyne City residents and/or business owners.
— More than half (63 percent) said they believe that food trucks can be incorporated into the city in some way.
— Only five out of the 67 respondents (7 percent) said food trucks should not be allowed in the city at all.
— 87 percent of respondents said food truck vendors should pay a fee to operate in the city.
— 63 percent said food trucks should be able to operate in designated locations.
— 79 percent said food trucks should be allowed during special events and festivals.
— 61 percent said food trucks are another way to attract tourists and increase crowds downtown.
— 33 percent thought food trucks should be able to operate in many locations throughout the city.
— 27 percent thought food trucks will detract from the existing local businesses.
General areas of concern for those who attended the sessions and/or responded to the surveys were fairness to downtown restaurant owners who must pay property taxes when food truck vendors do not; the appearance of food trucks and requirements for trash storage and removal.
City manager Michael Cain laid out a tentative plan for the commission’s consideration of the issue. He recommended that the commissioners take the time between the March 25 meeting and the commission’s next meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 8, to consider the data and its implications. He suggested that the commission discuss the issue at the April 8 meeting and take further input but still take no action at the meeting. Instead he suggested that following discussions at the April 8 meeting, the commission give city staff direction for drafting regulations for food truck operations, which could then be brought back to the commission for possible adoption at the April 22 meeting.
Because of the plan for future discussions, the commissioners limited their comments at the March 25 meeting. Commissioner Laura Sansom said her initial feeling is that food trucks would be fine if handled properly.
Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said he thinks city staff has received enough supportive comments to move forward with developing regulations. However, he said, the tough part will be deciding exactly what those regulations should be.
The city currently has no specific regulations for food trucks in the city, but has historically allowed them in Veterans Park during events and festivals. City staff began seeking community input on the issue earlier this year after receiving inquiries from as many as six different vendors in recent months about operating in the city during the coming summer.