The dream of bringing food trucks to Williston is one more vote from the City Commission away from becoming a reality.
At a public hearing held during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Rachel Laqua, principal planner for Williston, presented changes to the current ordinance to the commissioners prior to opening up the floor for discussion. Laqua first presented changes for Ordinance 1083, updating section 20-2 to include food trucks.
Section 20-2 regulates uses on public property and public spaces, such as streets and sidewalks. Laqua recommended approval of the ordinance with the following changes, based on comments made at a public meeting earlier in June.
Under the new guidelines, food trucks must contract for food, oil and organic waste disposal with a commercial kitchen, and will not be permitted to dump waste on their own. While originally permitted to operate between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m., the new ordinance will only allow food trucks to operate between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m, and will only allow them to park downtown for two hours at a time, after which they will be required to move to another location.
Additionally, on-site parking for food trucks will be restricted to 30 minutes before and after the allowed times in order to accommodate set up and tear down. Concern about food truck congestion around community events was also addressed, with the decision made that food trucks will not be permitted within a one block area around any city, CVB, park district or downtown association sponsored event, unless granted specific permission from the agency sponsoring the event.
Laqua then presented changes to Zoning Ordinance 1084 regarding the requirement of a special use permit for for food trucks to operate on private property. Specifically, the changes addressed allowing a "food truck park" to operate, essentially creating a mobile food court within the city.
Further changes to the ordinance limited the ability for food trucks to operate on industrial properties, such as oilfield work sites, as they are required to operate on paved property only. Most industrial work sites feature a gravel lot, and therefore would be ineligible for food truck service. Laqua said that the committee specifically chose not to include the heavy industrial zoning district in the allowable zone for food trucks, stating that work sites already have the option to contract with food trucks for catering services, and the planning and zoning commission did not make a motion to change that policy.
Public comment was minimal, with the hours of operation and service to industrial sites being the main focus. A potential food truck operator briefly expressed concern over the hours of operation, stating that she would like the opportunity to serve later in order to cater to the after bar crowd. Another resident questioned the reasoning behind disallowing food trucks to operate on industrial lots.
After closing the public discussion, the commission voted to approve the changes presented on both ordinances. Commission President Howard Klug pointed out that this was an approval of the first reading of proposed changes, and that further conversations and additional changes would be discussed. Laqua noted that it was a work in progress, and that the city was actively working to make sure the ordinance was in place for food truck operators to use before the end of summer.