Durham officials look to tighten rules governing food trucks

aweigl@newsobserver.comJuly 3, 2012 

— Officials in Durham – long considered to be the friendliest town in the Triangle to food truck entrepreneurs – are considering new restrictions on food trucks.

First, a food truck would be banned within 100 feet of the front entrance of a restaurant unless the truck has the owner’s permission. Second, food trucks would be banned around Durham Central Park, including when the Durham Farmers Market meets on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The rules appear to not only affect food trucks but anyone selling anything. This is similar to a restriction around the Durham Bulls ballpark.

Many food trucks have had a long-standing practice of parking on the periphery of the farmers market. Brian Bottger, who owns the Only Burger truck and restaurant, recently obtained a permit to close off part of nearby Hunt Street to create a designated area for food trucks during the market.

Although the proposed rules were a surprise to food truck owners Monday, Durham City-County Planning Supervisor Grace Smith said there has been an ongoing discussion among city officials.

Smith, who noted that town officials want to stay friendly to food trucks, pointed out two proposed changes to help the trucks. City officials want to remove rules that require trucks to move 60 feet every 15 minutes and that require truck owners to obtain a mobile cart permit.

About the ban around Durham’s Central Park area, Smith said officials with the park and the farmers market wanted some control over who sets up around the perimeter. On a recent Saturday, Bottger, with the Only Burger truck, said there were not only food trucks set up near the farmers market but folks selling lemonade, T-shirts and frozen food.

“I didn’t see business licenses anywhere,” Bottger said. “… I can understand people wanting to get it under control.”

There is a hearing from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday at Durham City Hall.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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