GALION — Local business owners say they’re afraid some provisions of a proposed ordinance may drive food trucks to other communities if it’s approved by Galion City Council.
Ordinance No. 2021-69 details the regulations regarding “mobile food service operations” within city limits. The measure was placed before City Council for its first reading during the Tuesday, Aug. 10 meeting.
Safety Service Director Nicole Ward said Galion currently does not have any ordinance on the books that addresses food trucks.
Following are some of the requirements contained in the ordinance:
• Inspection by the City of Galion Fire Department (valid for one year).
• $25 application fee for a limited use permit “for up to a two month permit to a maximum of $100.00 per year as long as the permits are for the same location each time.”
• Prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages.
• My not operate or park for longer than 12 hours at a time.
• Food trucks may operate in any city zoning district, including city parks and rights of way, except for residential districts.
Mayor Tom O’Leary said neither he nor Ward are in favor of enacting an ordinance to govern food trucks in the city.
“Not to be a smart alec, but this is a sleeping dog issue,” O’Leary noted. “I want to say, kind of jokingly, but next time it’s going to be licensing cats. There’s no problem. (Food trucks) are all licensed. I really don’t know what we hope to gain. There’s certainly the fee that some people are concerned about. It’s going to cost us more to collect and maintain records on the fee than the fee is going to generate for us.”
John Bassett, co-owner of 1803 Brewery and Taproom at 123 Harding Way East, addressed council about the proposed ordinance. He noted that his establishment isn’t large enough to house a kitchen for food preparation and has depended on food trucks to provide that service for customers.
“We have over $100,000 invested into 1803 Brewery and Taproom at this point in time,” said Bassett, who is also co-owner of Iron Vault Distillery at 134 Harding Way West. “We’re limited somewhat on space and expansion isn’t really much of an option for us. Food trucks that we have out front help offset some of that. … Our revenue is about 42.6% higher when we have a food truck versus when we do not.
“And 100% of that is returned to the community in the form of hiring people, wages, and all that, because we’re a growing business and we feel that’s the best way for us to build things up.”
Bassett noted that he fears some food truck operators may steer away from Galion to other municipalities due to some of the requirements in the proposed ordinance.
“Food trucks that we bring in have choices and they may choose other locations if they have to go through what they would consider excessive permits and things they don’t have to do in other locations,” Bassett said.
Bassett noted that the popular Wicked Lobstah food truck is scheduled to set up outside 1803 Brewery and Taproom for lunch and dinner on Friday, Aug. 13. The Grove City-based business has booked events all across Ohio and also travels to West Virginia, Michigan, and Kentucky. He said he’s been trying to book the Wicked Lobstah at 1803 Brewery and Taproom for nine months.
Miranda Jones, executive director of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce, told council that the City of Upper Sandusky has enacted a similar ordinance to the one being considered in Galion and it has adversely affected community events there.
“I asked (Upper Sandusky’s) chamber of commerce director how it affected their events,” Jones said. “She said they went from having nine food trucks at their First Thursday event to four. (The food truck operators) said, ‘We have other cities, we have other towns, we can go somewhere else where it’s not so restrictive.’”
Jones said two food truck operators are members of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce and they each expressed concerns about the Galion ordinance. She said they both noted that “there are too many hoops to jump through” and that they “have other communities that would welcome them in with open arms.”
Jones suggested that council send the ordinance back to the Laws, Ordinances, Zoning, and Permits Committee for further review and discussion. Council then voted 6-0 to send to the measure back to the committee.
The Laws, Ordinances, Zoning, and Permits Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
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