Friday, November 18, 2011
Denton City Council considers food cart ordinance
The current 15-minute ordinance does not apply to trucks at UNT.
The food cart movement is gaining momentum across North Texas, and Denton may follow suit as the City Council considers relaxing ordinances regarding the mobile eateries.
Denton city ordinance requires carts to relocate every 15 minutes, making it difficult to run a business, but this may soon change. The Denton Health Department is in the process of writing an ordinance to allow food trucks to remain in one location for 24 hours, which it will then present to the City Council for approval.
The draft of the ordinance has taken aspects from that of San Antonio, a food cart-friendly city, and pieced it together to fit Denton, said Kurt Hanson, City of Denton Health Department Building Official.
“When you think about it, you’re preparing a meal out of a trailer,” he said. “You have to dump water and grease oil. You’re probably going to have to do that every 24 hours anyway.”
The ordinance will still need approval from the City Council, which Hansen said he hopes will happen around the beginning of next year.
“We will go to City Council for a work session and present our idea to them,” Hansen said. “They may throw out all the ideas and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board in February.”
“We have our own internal structure that allows us to approve trucks,” said Ken Botts, director of special projects for UNT Dining Services. “We do follow the same procedures that the city would.”
The health department’s project is a coordinated effort and may require hiring a new health inspector to maintain the cleanliness of the carts, Hansen said.
“Since this is a basically [a] little restaurant, they will have to be in zoning districts that allow restaurants,” he said. “When we went to the City Council they all voted to allow it; now it’s just a matter of getting written into an ordinance.”
In Fort Worth, the request for food carts was approved with the opening of the Fort Worth Food Park set for Dec. 2. The man behind the project, Chris Kruger, attributed the change to the organization of its supporters.
“It was a pretty elaborate process,” Kruger said. “We did have some opposition from property owners in the area who were concerned about parking and traffic issues.”
Kruger and his team had to state their case for the value of food carts to the commercial sector of the Board of Adjustment and were approved for two years.
“It’s almost kind of a probationary period,” Kruger said. “Not having seen how this works, they wanted to give it a two-year period, but we fully expect to get approval after two years.”
The Food Cart Park will feature a variety of food selections, from Vietnamese sandwiches to Mexican tacos.
“I think the most important thing is to have a few central voices to form a coalition,” Kruger said. “That carries a lot more sway. Those few can go to the city and say, ‘Here are our issues, how can we solve this?’”
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