CAROLINA BEACH — After months of debating, Carolina Beach will allow food trucks. But don’t expect to see many new dining options thanks to a restrictive ordinance that requires food truck operators to also operate a brick and mortar location within town limits for at least one year.
The protectionist model looks to be unique to Carolina Beach; none of the other municipalities examined by town staff as comparable communities required this, Planning Director Ed Parvin said.
“I would tell you, having talked to some of the restaurant owners in town, they’re not overly concerned about having non-brick-and-mortar people come across the bridge … I was interested when Ed put together this report and they had 28 communities, 21 of them allow food trucks … out of that 21 we would be the only community that requires you have a brick and mortar,” Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Aside from the requirement of a physical store front, another restriction for the trucks is the requirement the food trucks to be at least 100-feet from the entrance of an existing restaurant.
The only exception would be if the restaurant owner gave the food truck permission to operate within the 100-feet.
Food trucks are also not permitted to operate on public property, meaning truck owners have to find a suitable location on private property, in a non-residential district, at least 100-feet away from another restaurant, something council members agreed would be difficult.
“I would challenge you to put a map on there and show me where you could have a food truck that’s 100-feet away from another business, that’s on private property, that’s in a commercial business district,” Shuttleworth said.
(Listen to Shuttleworth’s comments below)
Seeing food trucks by the Carolina Beach Boardwalk while in theory would be allowed on private property, would be difficult to meet all the requirements.
“I’m not sure how you would do it in the central business district on a regular basis. Down by the boardwalk is very difficult. We have a few small mom-and-pop restaurants that you’d be within 100-feet … there’s really not a lot of private property down there that’s going to make itself available,” Shuttleworth said.
Despite a period of debate among council members, the ordinance was approved and the only change came in the form of hours of operations. As written, food trucks would have to operate at the same hours as its brick and mortar – council voted to remove this clause.