Weekly Feature

2016-06-15 / Front Page

Village Board opens food truck regulation dialogue with community


During a public hearing at the Williamsville Village Board meeting, residents and business owners engaged in a conversation with board members about food truck regulation in the village.

At present, the use of food trucks is regulated by an existing peddling law.

The law states that vendors can operate only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and require a mayor’s permit.

The proposed legislation, known as the Mobile Food Vehicle Regulation Law of 2016, would require food trucks that wish to operate in the village to obtain a mayor’s permit, as well as a fire inspection prior to operation. There is also outlined a $50 per event fee, as well as a $200 annual fee.

The board made it clear that while legislation is on the table, the intention of the board is to gather information and keep safety at the forefront of the conversation before a final decision is reached.

“In tradition of this board, we are not here to move any actions, but to gather information to determine the best way to address the idea of an increase in food vehicles,” said Mayor Brian Kulpa. “I think you’ll find that we don’t necessarily speak with a single voice on this issue, but we do want to collectively find a way to maintain safety in the area.”

“We do not regulate business,” said Trustee Chris Duquin. “We are charged with the health, safety and well-being of our residents.”

Many village business owners were represented in the meeting, including those from the Shabby Chic Boutique, The Irishman Pub and Eatery, Glen Park Tavern and Share.

Tom Pilat of the Shabby Chic Boutique and member on the board of directors of the Williamsville Business Association, was first to speak during the hearing, and stated that the official position of the WBA was profood trucks in the village, but not on public streets.

“We do not want food trucks banned from the village,” he said. “Safety is a major issue, especially on Main Street, with fast-moving, heavy traffic and safe crossings that are widespread.”

Trisha Brown of The Eagle House pointed out that the operation of food trucks in the village would ultimately round out the climate of food service in the area, rather than stifle it.

“[Food trucks] do add a benefit, they do add traffic, and a whole different aspect for residents and visitors to enjoy. We all benefit from each other and build off of each other,” said Brown. “We work together for a lot of different events, and we’ve all developed relationships and an understanding to build each other up and build our own businesses up.”

Representatives of St. Peter and Paul School were also in attendance, advocating for a carve-out for nonprofits with respect to the $50 per event fee.

St. Peter and Paul currently hosts food trucks in its parking lot during Music on Main each Thursday, which return a portion of profits to the school.

Rebecca Donahue, a parent and representative from the school, stated the challenge a $50 per event fee would pose in its fundraising efforts.

“That means that for us to have them is $650,” she said, referring to the cost of hosting the food trucks for the remainder of the Music on Main program. “It is critically important for us to have unique opportunities to fundraise for the school. It’s important for us to continue these efforts, and we can do so in a safe way that is mutually beneficial for everyone.”

Representatives from two regularly operating food trucks were also in attendance: Peter Cimino of Lloyd Taco Truck and Lloyd Taco Factory, and Paul Trippi of Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs.

The two were in agreement and advocated for the removal of the $50 per event fee, and it was also suggested that the village streamline the permit process.

The pair agreed that existing legislation in neighboring municipalities was sufficiently thorough, including the City of Buffalo, where events such as Food Truck Tuesday in Larkin Square take place.

“It seems that some aspects of the proposed legislation undermine progress that has been made in neighboring communities,” said Trippi, who has been in the food truck business for four years. “We are very conscious of traffic laws. We are subject to multiple fire and health inspections annually.

“With all the redevelopment slated in the Village of Williamsville, it’s an opportunity for food trucks to become present and visible,” he said.

Cimino echoed these sentiments. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we should continue to borrow from what is already working,” he said. “Legislators have already put the safety of the community at the forefront. We’re here to continue the dialogue.”

The board and public were in agreement that the conversation would be left open-ended and legislation would be amended in accordance with the best interests of all parties, with safety at the forefront.

“The issues this board mostly feel need to be addressed are mostly pertaining to the fire inspection and site layout,” said Kulpa. “We’re open to suggestion.”

The board plans to discuss potential amendments to legislation at future board meetings, with the next meeting to be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 27, at Village Hall, 5565 Main St., Williamsville.

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