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Food trucks coming to Richmond Hill

POSTED: December 8, 2017 8:29 a.m.
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Food trucks such as this one, owned by Molly MacPherson's, could become more common around Richmond Hill under a new ordinance.

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A new dining experience — food trucks — may soon be available in Richmond Hill after city council reviewed an ordinance change that would allow them.

“We had received numerous requests from local businesses and so we wanted to look at how we could accommodate them as our ordinances right now prohibit them,” said Assistant City Manager Scott Allison.

Allison said the city looked at other similar municipalities to see how they handle the issue.

“We’re not like Savannah where you’ve got 30 trucks lined up on River Street,” he said. “We looked at Bluffton and Beaufort County in South Carolina and Alpharetta up near Atlanta.”

Any such truck allowed to operate in the city would first have to have a permit from the county health department in which it originates. Trucks would have to be set up within 200 feet of a restroom and if they are set up on private property the operators of the truck would need permission from the property owner.

Food trucks would also have to be associated with a licensed food establishment that has a fixed location.

“That’s the main thing about the health permit is having a place where they can go to unload waste and where supplies are stored properly,” Allison said.

Requiring permission to set up within 200 feet of an existing eating establishment also is key.

“That’s to prevent any unfair competition because the owner of a restaurant is paying things like a lease and property taxes,” Allen added.

Food trucks would not be allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and could not set up in residential areas under the new ordinance.

Allison said he sees a number of opportunities for the trucks, such as companies hosting employee appreciation days, church fundraisers or small pockets of businesses located near each other that host events aimed at drawing in more customers.

Trucks could also be allowed at city events such as the Christmas parade or Fourth of July fireworks.

“To operate on city property, it would have to be in conjunction with an event,” he said. “They couldn’t just show up at J.F. Gregory Park on the fly.”

The revised ordinance will also include a new requirement for owners of ice cream trucks operating in the city to undergo a background check.

“They aren’t subject to the same health department regulations because they sell pre-packaged items, but the background check is similar to what people have to do if they are getting an alcohol license,” Allison said. 

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