Food trucks are now officially allowed to operate in Cary.
Until the Town Council unanimously adopted food truck regulations Thursday, the businesses were considered prohibited.
The ban may have been one of Cary’s least-enforced rules based on comments from council members. Councilwoman Lori Bush mentioned seeing the businesses at community pools and office parks.
The regulations adopted Thursday aim to welcome the trucks while also protecting traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.
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Food trucks can now park where they’re invited so long as the property owner acquires an annual permit for $50. The trucks can’t park on public property or within 100 feet of the main entrance of a restaurant.
The council also prohibited food trucks from setting up tables and chairs.
Cary staff and the town’s Planning and Zoning Board had endorsed regulations that would have allowed the trucks to set up portable seating.
However, the council voted 4-3 to reject their recommendation.
Councilman Don Frantz argued that by allowing seating, “You just created a restaurant … and that’s the type of thing we’re trying to avoid.”
Council members Bush, Jennifer Robinson and Ed Yerha supported the idea.
“I just don’t see what all the opposition is about,” Yerha said.
Robinson, who said she can’t stand to eat while standing up – “At dinner parties, I hate it” – suggested the town allow seating but limit the number of tables and chairs.
But the rest of the council seemed ready to move on from the discussion.
“I think you’re opening up a can of worms,” Frantz said.
Cary’s rules allow food trucks to operate from 6 a.m. until midnight – requiring them to pack up three hours earlier than in Raleigh.
Cary staff’s initial draft called for the same operational hours as Raleigh, but council members requested a change at a recent meeting.
“Three a.m.? Really?” Councilman Ed Yerha said at a meeting in May. “I don’t know whether to call it too late or too early.”
Town leaders hope their timing is just right to generate food truck business in Cary before the end of summer.
Cary is considering hosting its second-ever food truck rodeo after a town-sponsored event in June drew hundreds of people.