By Amanda Seitz | Wausau Daily Herald
City business owners, civic leaders and food vendors Wednesday began crafting an ordinance that would allow permits for food carts or trucks in Wausau.
The city currently doesn’t place any restrictions on mobile food vending, but Wausau City Clerk Toni Rayala said she has talked to a handful of residents who are interested in selling hot pizza or soup from carts or trucks, spurring the city to launch a permit system for the mobile vendors. Rayala said food carts and trucks are popular around the country and she would like to see some settle in Wausau.
“If (Wausau) can bring in something new, exciting and different, why not,” Rayala asked.
The city has been working to develop an ordinance to govern mobile vendors since late last year.
The Mobile Food Vending Task Force will meet again at 3 p.m. today in hopes of finalizing its proposal for a new city ordinance, Wausau Finance Director Maryanne Groat said. The ordinance, once drafted, will need approval by the Wausau City Council, which likely would happen this summer.
The issues agreed upon Wednesday include, among other things:
• Have a citizen’s panel select 10 mobile vendors that will get a permit in the city. Clint Schultz, a task force member who sells food on private property out of a food truck called Urban Street Bistro, said the city should allow a panel to judge who gets a permit.
“You want to put your best foot forward,” Schultz said. “If you’re renting from the city, the city’s giving you an opportunity to have the main stage.”
• Allow both non-food and food mobile vendors to be selected for a permit.
• Allow vendors to sell from 7 a.m. until local bars close, which, by law, is typically 2:30 a.m.
• Prohibit vendors from providing outdoor seating.
• Allow vendors to apply for a six-month permit on April 1 and Oct. 1 of every year.
The issues the task force will work on finding solutions for during today’s meeting include, among other things:
• Where within the city vendors will be allowed to sell. The city doesn’t permit vendors to sell items in parks. The task force is considering allowing the vendors to sell on all other city-owned property or just in the city’s business improvement district that includes areas immediately surrounding downtown or just on The 400 Block.
• Where, if at all, food trucks will be allowed to sell food. The task force agreed that food trucks should be required to sell food over the curb, not on one-way streets or alleyways. The task force couldn’t agree Wednesday whether it should permit food trucks to sell in metered or timed city parking spots or designate certain zones within the city for food truck vending.
City Council President Lisa Rasmussen said she supports an ordinance that would allow food trucks and carts.
“The public feedback that I’ve received from people, they say that they want both (carts and trucks),” Rasmussen said.