BEATRICE – Beatrice could soon join the list of communities that regulate food trucks…which are becoming popular locally with customers.
The Beatrice City Council is considering a draft ordinance with elements borrowed from provisions other communities already have in place.

Jeremy Snyder operates a familiar red food truck that’s often been parked along North Sixth. He told Mayor Stan Wirth and the city council some regulation is okay, within reason.

"Just keep an open know, they're small business people who are just trying to work hard. I'd like to look at it, if I could help."

Snyder’s bus is permanently located along East Court Street.  The proposed draft ordinance was offered because of the growing number of food trucks in use. City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer says the ordinance under consideration is just a first draft.  A mobile food truck would be defined as operable, independent on utilities but able to hook up to electricity. In the draft ordinance, there are permit requirements.

"We have an annual permit and a weekly permit. The weekly permit is for about six days. If you want to come in for a festival, you could get a weekly permit. We look for you guys to set different fees on those. An annual permit is just that....someone who is there for a year or can sell within that year, we'd have a separate permit for that one."

Under the draft, Tempelmeyer said there would be some exemptions from the permit requirement.  "If you have a catering license, you don't nee a mobile food vending license. If the school has an event and wants to have a mobile food vendor. As long as they sponsor it, they're not required to have a permit. If you're a permanent food establishment....if McDonald's has one in town and they want to have mobile food vending on their own private property, they can....they don't have to come get a permit."

City sponsored events would not require the event organizers to get mobile food truck permits. Non-profits could be exempted. There would also be a distance restriction between a food truck and a permanent restaurant and restrictions against blocking traffic or backing drive-up traffic onto a street. A minimum number of parking spots would be needed…on-street or otherwise.

Councilman Gary Barnard says he’d like to drop a provision that considers whether the food truck operator has a past felony conviction.
"I personally know three people that are convicted felons. I've gotten to know them well...and every one of them served their short as it might be... in a state penitentiary. They did what they're supposed to, and we're going to punish them again by not allowing a license?"

It appears officials are not interested in regulating food trucks out of existence. Councilman Tim Fralin said they’ve made a positive impact.

"I think the food trucks have been a bright spot in the community lately. There's lots of variety that comes in...different opportunities for people to experience different foods. I know they've come from Kansas, Iowa and several other places and I've gotten to test a few of them out. They're all really good, plus the local ones that we got. I don't want to price them out of coming here."

The ordinance would include penalties for violators…and the trucks would have to operate in areas that are zoned to allow restaurants. City officials say they’ll take suggestions for changes and consider them before bringing a final ordinance to the city council for consideration.