Rutland, VT: Food Truck Gets Green Light

By Gordon Dritschilo | Rutland Herald

The Community and Economic Development Committee said Mark Foley can have one, and only one, food truck in the parking lot he leases from the city.

Foley signed a lease for the lot at West and Cottage streets earlier this year to provide parking for his retail spaces in the Gryphon Building. The lease limited use of the lot to parking, and Foley approached the city recently asking to have the arrangement modified so he could rent out part of the lot to a food truck.

“Carts and mobile food are a really fast-growing part of the food industry,” Foley said. “It’s inevitable that one or two would eventually try to become part of the marketplace.”

Foley said the owners of the Killington Avenue Market & Deli approached him a few weeks ago having just bought a truck and looking for a place to put it.

“There’s not a lot of land downtown so there were only so many places where I could show them,” he said.

While the truck has been parking in a spot behind the Opera House, Foley said they preferred the West and Cottage location because of its better visibility.

Downtown Rutland Partnership executive director Michael Coppinger told the committee his board of directors has discussed the issue and chose to remain neutral.

“A lot of people downtown right now are suffering,” said Terry Zullo of the Sandwich Shoppe, across the street and around the corner from the proposed site. “Every week we see less and less people for lunch. I just don’t think we need another vendor downtown.”

Everyone on the committee ultimately voted to change Foley’s lease — with the specific provision he be limited to a single food truck on the property — but not before a couple expressed reservations.

“I’ve been batting this around in my head for a while and something does not feel right about it,” Alderman Christopher Robinson said. “Take away the lease for a moment. It’s city property. Do we want food carts operating on city property competing with businesses who are in buildings paying property taxes. … Would we want these carts in Depot Park? Do we want them on the corner selling nuts?”

Alderman William Notte responded by pointing out there are already, in a sense, mobile food vendors in Depot Park every Saturday the farmers’ market is open. He also said the aldermen have no right to try to keep out competitors for established businesses. Several board members joined in the latter sentiment while making a point to say how much they love the Sandwich Shoppe.

The committee’s recommendation much still be ratified by the full Board of aldermen, which meets Monday.