St. Charles, MO: P&Z Commission Still Divided On Street Food Vendor Issue

From left, Steve Darlin and Kyle Cast wait for their food in the hot weather at Steve O's BBQ & More. The St. Charles City Council approved a permit for the barbecue trailer in July 2009. The council failed to approve a similar permit for an Indian food truck on Tuesday. Credit Rebecca Thiele

By Rebecca Thiele | St. Charles Patch

From left, Steve Darlin and Kyle Cast wait for their food in the hot weather at Steve O's BBQ & More. The St. Charles City Council approved a permit for the barbecue trailer in July 2009. The council failed to approve a similar permit for an Indian food truck on Tuesday. Credit Rebecca Thiele

At Monday night’s planning and zoning meeting, the commission forwarded permits for two street food vendors to the city council for approval.

One is a new barbecue trailer near Barrel & Bottle liquor store on South Drive. Owner Don Abby was operating the trailer for a month, unaware his business was subject to city regulations instead of St. Charles County regulations. Abbey said the trailer would be operating year-round.

The other permit is for an existing snow cone stand that plans to expand its business. Steve Schad who owns the stand, said they would like to sell hot dogs and chili in the colder months.

Commissioner Richard Baum said street food vendors that operate year-round are taking business away from permanent businesses in the area, which are more invested in the city.

Schad said he is paying rent just like the other four businesses near his snow cone stand. He said he doesn’t understand why street food vendors are being targeted.

“Why are we being singled out for unfair competition when there’s four people competing?” Schad said.

Schad said he would love to move into a more permanent structure as the planning and zoning commission suggested, but he cannot afford it in this tough economy.

Both food permits are to be re-evaluated after one year. Commissioner Lindsey Devereux said she understands why food vendor owners might want to try running a year-round business before investing in a permanent space.

Baum said he opposes the one-year permits because the city has no way of revoking those permits unless the food vendor does not meet all the conditions set by the commission.

Mayor Sally Faith said it may be time for the city council to re-evaluate its policy on temporary food vendors.

“There has to be an evaluation or a time set as to how long you can be a street vendor,” Faith said.

Faith said the fact that more of these street vendors have been asking to expand may push this issue to the forefront.

The city has approved six out of eight conditional use permits for street food vendors within the past year. One of those vendors, Gaurang Bhavsar, had to go back to the city more than once to get approval for his Indian food cart on West Clay.

Commissioner Patricia Lang was absent at the meeting.

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