CITY OF TONAWANDA — After a month of debate, the City of Tonawanda council unanimously passed a local law governing food trucks Tuesday night that the mobile vendor operators say is still too strict.
The resolution requires food truck operators to pay a $100 permitting fee for the rest of the 2013 year, and makes it illegal for food trucks to operate within 100 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant. Although the annual fee on Tuesday’s agenda was initially $400, the council agreed to prorate the rest of the year.
The measure expires at the end of 2013, when the council will re-evaluate the regulations.
“We want to make sure this works for the vendors and for the food facilities in Tonawanda,” City Attorney Ron Trabucco said. “This gives us a change to reassess it at the end of the year.”
Until Tuesday night, food trucks were free to operate on public property because the city had no law on the books regulating the relatively new mobile food vendors. The matter was first brought up last month, after restaurants on Niagara Street complained of food trucks operating near their businesses.
The council’s early talks centered on a resolution that would keep the mobile vendors away from the most populated areas of the city. The council’s first proposed resolution would have made it illegal for food trucks to operate within 1,000 feet of a restaurant, which would have knocked the vendors off Main and Niagara streets. The original proposal also specified an application fee of $1,000, with a $500 annual renewal.
Attorney Mitchell Stenger, who represents Western New York food trucks, argued for lower requirements at a series of meetings over the past month. He continued to do so Tuesday.
“We still consider $400 to be high. That is nearly as high as the City of Buffalo, and is the same as the Town of Amherst,” Stenger said. “With all due respect, the City of Tonawanda is not the City of Buffalo and it is not the Town of Amherst.”