Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Denton considers food truck permits
Entrepreneurs caused Denton officials to rethink their stance on mobile food vehicles.
Hot dog stands and mobile taquerias could soon be springing up around Denton if the city approves a new ordinance currently in the works.
Last week the Denton City Council held a work session to discuss possibly changing the city ordinance on mobile food trailers to follow the lead of cities like Austin and Portland, where food carts are in abundance.
The current city ordinance states that a mobile food trailer may only stay stationary for 15 minutes. Temporary permits can be obtained to allow food carts at events or festivals.
Kurt Hansen, building inspector for the city’s building inspection and consumer health department, said the city council has been very positive about changing the mobile food trailer ordinance.
“We’re going to start meeting and make an ordinance,” Hansen said. “I think it’s a go.”
Hansen said his department, which oversees the regulations and permits of Denton’s food service industry, would have a new ordinance ready for the City Council to vote on in about two months, and Denton residents could see food trailers around town as early as January if it passes.
Hansen said he studied food trailer ordinances in cities like Portland and Austin – which has about 1,400 permitted food trailers – and would model Denton’s ordinance off of those.
Owners of mobile food trailers would have to get permits from the city and apply with local landowners before finding a place to set up shop.
“What will be interesting is when we begin to see the creativity of entrepreneurs [in the area],” Hansen said.
City Council member Kevin Roden said changing the ordinance to allow mobile food trailers could face staunch opposition from some business owners on the downtown Denton Square. However, there is room for the trailers to flourish in other areas, he said, mentioning McKinney Street in southeast Denton.
“They could bring some more attention to a part of town that doesn’t get a lot of high-dollar investment,” Roden said.
The city will collect a sales tax from any mobile food trailers and could attract new business to the area, but Roden said one of the biggest appeals of the trailers is cultural.
“By and large, you’re seeing a recognition of the creative culture of Denton,” Roden said.
Roden and other Council members, specifically Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp and Dalton Gregory, have been pushing to change the ordinance, he said.
One of the few mobile food trucks currently operating in Denton is the Angry Friar, a double-decker bus emblazoned with images of the Beatles and the Union Jack.
The eatery has served fish and chips to UNT students for the past 18 months and can operate because it is on UNT property and not bound by city ordinance.
Dave Wilson, owner of the Angry Friar, said the city came to him several times to get input on a new food trailer ordinance.
He called food trailers the “way of the future,” and said entrepreneurs contacting the city had been a major cause of Denton rethinking its stance on mobile food vehicles.
Art junior and self-described “huge fan of food” Ben Shawver said he is looking forward to the possibility of mobile food carts coming to Denton.
“Denton needs more food diversity and more local flavor,” Shawver said. “Less Chick-fil-A.”
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