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Officials Continue Food Truck Discussions

Food trucks in the background during a block party in front of the National Comedy Center during the 2018 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. City officials are working on finding a location to allow food trucks to operate downtown. P-J file photo

Jamestown city government officials are continuing discussions on proposals that could make it easier for food truck owners to operate downtown.

In June, the City Council discussed food trucks during two work sessions meetings and a special meeting to change the city’s outdoor dining ordinance. During the special meeting, the council approved a new ordinance to allow for more outdoor dining space for downtown restaurants. The new ordinance didn’t include proposed changes that would of allowed food trucks within 100 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant.

Because the ordinance didn’t include food trucks, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist vetoed the proposed changes. Sundquist’s veto message to the council states that because the new ordinance was passed without including provisions for food trucks, there was no difference in the new ordinance on outdoor dining compared to what was already in the city code.

“By removing said sections from the ordinance, only sidewalk cafe permits have been permitted. Under Chapter 46 Article III of the Codes of the city of Jamestown, sidewalk cafes have been permitted, and would continue to be permitted through veto of this legislation,” Sundquist states. “An ordinance, which simply restates existing code is duplicative and unnecessary.”

Following the mayor’s veto, the council discussed food trucks again during its work session meeting June 22. Brent Sheldon, Ward 1 councilman, said during the meeting at issue seems to be the distance a food truck needs to be from a brick and mortar downtown restaurant. The ordinance that was tabled by the council stated that a food truck needed to be 100 feet away from a downtown restaurant. During the council’s discussions on the topic, it had been proposed that a food truck should not be allowed within 200 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant. Sheldon proposed a compromise to allow food trucks to not be within 150 feet.

During the work session meeting, Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, said Crystal Surdyk, city development director, was in the process of discussing food trucks with owners of downtown restaurants. Ecklund said there is more at issue than just the distance a food truck is from an established brick and mortar restaurant.

Because of audio issues throughout the online work session meeting June 22, the council agreed it wasn’t the best time to continue discussing food trucks. Sundquist said his office staff will schedule a meeting for the council later this week to further discuss the topic.

Sheldon, Public Safety Committee chairman, told The Post-Journal members of the council’s Public Safety Committee did meet with city department of development staff members and the mayor’s executive assistant, Zach Altschuler, last week. Sheldon said an agreement was reached where instead of an ordinance change, city officials will possibly start another pilot program similar to the one that was approved earlier this month for parklets. A parklet is a platform that is constructed on current parking spots in front of downtown business to allow for more outdoor seating.

“We still have some issues we’re trying to hash out. There is a lot of interest of having food trucks in a central location like they do in Larkin Square in Buffalo,” he said. “They could be put on the (Greater Jamestown) Riverwalk or Baker Park, which is located between Fourth and Fifth streets by Jefferson Street.”

Sheldon said city officials will continue working on a proposal to find a location on where to allow food trucks and to provide for more outdoor dining for downtown restaurants.

“We’re trying to work with all the businesses. Trying to get as many of them as happy as possible,” he said. “We would like to help them as much as we can.”

On Monday during the Jamestown City Council meeting, Jennifer Williams, city clerk, read four letters from eight people who support the addition of food trucks. Anthony Dolce, city council president, said in the next couple weeks city officials will hopefully find a solution on the food truck issue in the city.

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