Tonawanda News

The City

August 7, 2013

Food trucks make their case

CITY OF TONAWANDA — A lawyer representing Western New York food truck owners advocated for his clients Tuesday arguing at a City of Tonawanda council meeting that the vendors could bring more visitors and business to the municipality.

“Brick and mortar restaurants are afraid there is an uneven playing field, but we are just trying to get on the field,” attorney Mitchell Stenger said. “Give us a chance and see how we do.”

His comments came after the council discussed strict regulations of the food trucks at the body’s last meeting. The original proposed ordinance would have made it illegal for food trucks to operate within a 1,000-foot radius of any brick and mortar restaurant. The measure also specified an application fee of $1,000, and a $500 annual renewal fee.

The proposal was initially designed to keep food trucks away from Niagara and Main streets after brick and mortar restaurants complained of food trucks operating near their businesses.

Tuesday, council members said they had agreed to lower both the radius requirement and fees, but there was no confirmed consensus and a specific measure was not on the table.

Stenger, who attended the work session with Lloyd Taco Truck co-founder Pete Cimino, said he hoped the ordinance was not more restrictive than Amherst’s current law — which designates a 100-foot radius requirement, a $400 initial application fee and a $200 fee for renewing the permit.

“If you come up with restrictions that prevent food trucks from operating on Niagara and Main streets, I’m going to be obligated to challenge them in a court of law or public opinion,” Stenger said.

He also said that even a $400 fee may be too high due to the small size of the city. In response, Councilman Blake Boyle said the estimated 600,000 people that visit Niawanda Park every year must be taken into account.

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The City