PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City officials have begun shaping an ordinance regulating the city's newly emerging food truck businesses.
They say they will look for more input from downtown merchants as city councilors continue to consider the ramifications of a new permitting scheme to emcompass modern mobile eateries.
"This is not a particular rush, I'd rather take our time on this and make sure we make time for public comment so that we can get all the feedback and the input that we need," said Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, at a meeting of the council's Committee on Ordinance & Rules on Monday.
The proposed change would amend the city code regulating hawkers, peddlers and transient vendors to establish permitting and fees for use of city parking spaces for food vending
as well as limiting the zones they may operate in within the downtown area.
City Planner C.J. Hoss presented the committee with an initial boilerplate draft of an ordinance based on input from interested parties at a previous committee meeting, including a proposed monthly parking fee of $35 per space.
Regular use of spaces in the city's designated Downtown Arts Overlay District would also be limited to select locations, removed some distance from some of the densest concentrations of retail and restaurants. South Street between Park Square and West Housatonic Street, North Street between Maplewood and Wahconah streets, as well as the east side of North in the vicinity of St. Joseph's Church, would all be considered food truck-friendly areas. City parking lots would also be fair game with the purchase of the regular parking permits for those spaces.
There will be no limit to the number of food trucks that can operate, however, and vendors may apply for other locations to be considered, pending a hearing before the Community Development Board to which businesses within a 200-foot radius will be invited.
Councilor Christopher Connell said businesses within the vicinity of the currently proposed downtown zones should likewise be contacted and invited to offer input to the committee as they continue to develop the ordinance.
Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Executive Director Pamela Tobin, who requested the regulation, expressed concerns
about the impact that nearby food trucks might have on the decision of future potential businesses on a site, and also that the parking fee might not be high enough.
"They're an amenity to downtown, I'm not disputing that, I think it's great," said Tobin. "I think there's just a couple of things we need to really look at, for the betterment of all downtown businesses."
Kathy Lloyd, proprietor of the well-known How We Roll food truck, said the presence of food trucks will only add vitality to this central commercial district.
"One of the things that the studies are showing now is that food trucks really enhance downtowns, they bring people down and really add to the foot traffic," said Lloyd, "which is what our downtown desperately needs."
"We can use all the energy we can get in downtown Pittsfield, so having food trucks in our downtown I think is a very positive thing," agreed Councilor John Krol
Hoss suggested that deliberations with downtown businesses at future meetings avoid becoming a discussion of "do we want food trucks or don't we," as the committee works to fine tune the proposed rules for permitting them.
The committee will continue to hear input and amend the draft ordinance at its November 4, 2013 meeting.
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CODE OF THE CITY OF PITTSFIELD CHAPTER 9, “HAWKERS, PEDDLERS AND TRANSIENT VENDOR... by Joe Durwin