The discussion surrounding the original food truck ordinance was an exhausting effort, but the slight change Newton City Council made to the code on March 21 was brief and refreshing, taking no more than eight minutes. The council then waived the second and third readings and passed the amendments on the spot.
The amendments now allow the operation of food trucks in city parks and the rights-of-way in Newton’s town center plaza. Council member Vicki Wade recalled that the last conversation about food trucks was a “particularly long topic,” so she asked the staff if the proposal was as simple as she thought.
Erin Chambers, director of community development, confirmed that the changes are indeed as simple as Wade had hoped.
“Yeah, it’s as simple as you read it,” Chambers said. “…You know, prescriptions change over time. Ordinances evolve to meet the needs of the community. And so sometimes when ordinances are written, we can’t anticipate problems until we actually enact them.
Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said one of the most unique things about local government is that when it puts ordinances in place and learns from them, the city has “the opportunity to fix them or to complete them in a relatively short period of time”. The original food truck ordinance was passed in January.
Community development staff worked closely with Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik and determined that there was sufficient clearance between the face of the downtown buildings and the sidewalk of the plaza. city to allow food truck operations. Chambers said it was a safe and appropriate approach.
The town center square is not limited to the streets surrounding the courthouse. City documents indicate that the square is bounded by:
• The center line of East Second Street North and South;
• The center line of South Second Avenue East and West;
• The eastern boundary of the North-South Lane right-of-way in the 200 blocks between North Third Avenue West and South Second Avenue West; and
• The center line of North Third Avenue East and West.
Chambers said the food truck ordinance was originally written to prohibit operations in residential neighborhoods. Most city parks are located in residential neighborhoods. Staff can imagine scenarios – like the summer concert series – where it might be ideal to host a food truck.
“Initially, the idea was to try to keep these commercial uses out of neighborhoods and street parking and parking on people’s properties. With the change in language, this allows the use of these types of food trucks in our parks, but not in residences use properties,” Chambers said.
Although the park board was unable to meet on March 16, members expressed general support for mobile food service units in city parks at their February meeting. The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended that council approve the proposed changes as written.
Minutes from the March 8 committee meeting show that all members supported the changes. Jane Johnson, a member of the city’s planning and zoning commission, sees the benefit of allowing downtown operations and said it would be a good idea for local businesses to partner with trucks. catering for special events.
In order for city landowners to host food trucks, they must first apply for a premise permit from the city. Since the city is no exception to this rule, staff will need to apply for premise permits at each park that would host a food truck. Food trucks must also be approved for fire inspections.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or [email protected]