Changes coming for food-truck rules

Irie Island Eats, mile marker 49.5 bayside, is one of two food trucks serving food in Marathon.
Irie Island Eats, mile marker 49.5 bayside, is one of two food trucks serving food in Marathon. Keynoter

Who doesn’t like multiple options for grabbing a quick bite to eat?

What’s the harm in a food truck being parked up in the same spot for hours at a time?

Those questions, and their answers, were the basis of a workshop the Marathon City Council held Tuesday night in an effort to loosen the rules around food trucks in the city and change an ordinance created years ago that mobile vendors say is stifling for business.

Even some brick-and-mortar restaurant owners came out Tuesday to support loosening the rules around food trucks, but they made one thing clear: There need to be a few caveats for the competition on wheels.

“I think the taxes should be the same” for food trucks as restaurants, said Brutus Seafood owner Elise Mucha, adding she’s not for or against food trucks in the city but wants to see fairness all around.

“Food trucks are an up-and-coming theme, but look at it closer. Look at the whole macro view and how it’ll help Marathon,” Harry Kirchner told the council. He used to own the Hurricane bar and grill and the Key Colony Inn.

Current rules, enacted by the City Council in 2012, allow food trucks to stay in one place for a maximum two hours and the vendor needs written permission from a “private property owner operating a retail business.” In a city right of way, the unit can be parked for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Every council member and most speakers at the podium agreed two hours is not enough time for any food vendor, mobile or not, to do business.

Currently, there are two food trucks operating in the city but five have permits to operate, said Senior Planner Brian Shea.

Since it was a workshop, the council could not make any official changes to the ordinance. But they gave suggestions for staff to draft a new one. They suggested normal operating hours, daytime hours set forth in the city’s noise ordinance (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.).

Another suggestion was if the applicant wants to stay open beyond the permitted hours, he or she will have to get a conditional-use permit from the city. Councilman Steve Cook and Mayor Michelle Coldiron suggested a portion of the permit money go to the city’s affordable housing fund.

On public land, food trucks will be able to set up during public events only, the council suggested.

After Hurricane Irma, the city’s ordinance was loosened. That will be the status quo until the new ordinance is passed, which won’t happen until the council has voted on it twice.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219