Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Carolina Beach will hold public hearing to decide the fate of food trucks

After initial attempts to largely prevent food trucks from operating in town limits triggered a lawsuit, Carolina Beach backed off its protectionist ordinance. Now Town Council must decide what to do.

Bill's Front Porch is ready to hit the streets, with food options chosen by the venues that host it. Bonus: the food truck is ready to take BIll's beer on the road, if ABC regulations are relaxed. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brookes Musser)
Allowing food trucks in Carolina Beach is once again the topic of discussion at this month’s Town Council meeting. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brookes Musser)

CAROLINA BEACH — The seemingly innocuous concept of food trucks is once again a cause for debate in the Town of Carolina Beach, which will hold a public hearing — again — to discuss what rules and regulations the town should impose on the trucks.

RELATED: National law firm files suit against Carolina Beach for restrictive food truck laws

After being on the receiving end of a lawsuit in August, the Town Council was fast to amend the current regulations that limited food trucks operation in the town. Food truck owners, along with the national law firm the Institute for Justice filed a suit against Town Council members for restrictive and protectionist measures that only allowed trucks that owned a brick and mortar restaurant to operate in the town.

Because of the lawsuit, at the August council workshop the code was amended to eliminate the requirement that a food truck operator shall maintain an eating and drinking establishment (brick and mortar).

“Food trucks have been allowed under the umbrella of a special event to operate in town without having to maintain an eating and drinking establishment … While the requirement for a food truck to have a business establishment within the town to operate was unique, prohibiting them is not. Many communities do not allow them at all, some only allow them for special events, and some allow them with restrictions,” according to Town Council’s agenda for its October meeting.

After the public hearing, council will have three options to decide on:

  1. Do nothing and keep the existing regulations.
  2. Allow food trucks, but amend the existing regulations.
  3. Prohibit food trucks except for special events

Staff is recommending option two, amending “the regulations that a permit is required and are limited to private non-residential properties and food trucks must meet building, fire and health department requirements. This provides an efficient code to limit regulations for life and safety aspects and enforcement associated with food trucks,” according to the agenda.

The full agenda presentation can be found online and residents and anyone with an interest of the topic can attend the council meeting Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m.

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