By Megan Boehnke | Knox News
Knoxville officials have collected feedback on a proposed food truck ordinance from two community groups in the past week and hope to send an updated draft — the third — to City Council next month.
After meeting Wednesday with the Neighborhood Advisory Council, staff attorney Crista Cuccaro said the city planned to reconsider food truck limits in office zones, how to regulate them in parks and whether to allow meat smokers.
“We’re going to look at office districts and look at adding a threshold to allow the operation only in those districts if the parcels are a certain size,” Cuccaro said. “We’re also looking at developing standards for parks, which are the open space districts, and so we’re working with the director of parks to come up with standards for operation.”
Food trucks have been working under rules from a pilot program, and the proposed ordinance would expand operation from commercial zones to all but residential zones. As part of the proposal, the city also has lowered the permit fee, added temporary permits for out-of-town vendors, and reduced insurance requirements.
The ordinance was first slated to go before City Council on Dec. 17 following a public comment period, but Community Forum, a coalition of local residents from the city and the county, sent a letter to the city on Dec. 7 asking for more deliberation.
The Community Forum wasn’t pleased with the 50-foot distance that food trucks can be from residential areas, according to member Larry Silverstein. Members also don’t want the trucks wired with speakers, having an external smoker for cooking or being allowed to operate daily between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The city posted a new draft on Dec. 22, which reduced the hours near residential zones and banned speakers on the trucks. Cuccaro and Patricia Robledo, the city’s business liaison, met with the group last week for feedback on the new draft. Cuccaro called it a “long” but “productive” meeting.
Carlene Malone, a Community Forum member and a former City Councilwoman, attended the Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting Wednesday at the Cansler YMCA to express frustration with current draft.
Malone said she was concerned about allowing trucks within 50 feet of homes and that there were no limits on when and where food trucks can operate outside of the city’s residential zones.
“I think there’s a difference between an office lot on Ceder Lane — which is a two-lane, windy road with no shoulders — having five food trucks, versus a place off Broadway at a signalized intersection,” Malone said. “I think the city should know every single lot given permission for food trucks to operate because they have impacts on traffic, impacts on noise, impacts on smoke and all kinds of things”
Cuccaro said she hopes to complete an updated draft and send the proposed ordinance to City Council for a first reading on Feb. 16.