PAOLA — Paola City Council members recently approved an ordinance regulating food trucks, but not before modifying it after listening to multiple food truck operators voice their opinions.
It was a packed house during the May 14 council meeting at the Paola Justice Center, with many of those in attendance wanting to comment on a proposed ordinance regulating the operation of food trucks.
The ordinance offers the city’s Parking Lot No. 1 off the northwest corner of Park Square as a public location that food trucks could set up at on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. This would be in addition to private property, where they already are allowed to operate with the property owner’s permission.
Food truck vendors also would be required to acquire a city license to operate at a cost of $25 per day or $250 per year.
Before voting on the proposed ordinance, council members allowed members of the public to speak.
Renee Bowman, who operates the Bull Creek BBQ food truck in town with her husband Justin, asked the council members to allow food trucks to be on Park Square during the Paola Farmers Market.
Renee is part of the Discover Historic Paola group that is preparing to take over organization of the Paola Farmers Market, and she said a food truck would give both vendors and customers easy access to food during the market without having to leave the Square.
Mayor Artie Stuteville expressed concerns about parking on the Square being taken up by food trucks. Councilman Dave Smail also said allowing food trucks at the farmers market could open the door to having them on the Square at other times, which is a concern of his.
Renee said she and the other members of her group would be happy to limit the number of food trucks at the market and ensure that the trucks are only on the Square during the hours of the farmers market, which are 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bobby Knudson of JK Custom Communications said he went around the Square and surveyed business owners, and more than 90 percent said they are in favor of food trucks being allowed on the Square during the farmers market.
Kenny Birkholz said he operates food trucks in a variety of different states, and he is planning a food truck rally to take place soon on the allotted city parking lot. His original plan, though, was to have the rally on the Square, but he was told by city officials that wasn’t an option.
“I still think a Friday night food truck rally on the Square would be great,” Birkholz said.
City Clerk Dan Droste cautioned the council about allowing food trucks on the Square during times that could conflict with other events, such as weddings taking place at Town Square.
Birkholz started operating food trucks more than 20 years ago at the Roots Festival in Paola, and Roots and the Paola Heartland Car Show are two of the exceptions listed in the ordinance in which food trucks would be allowed.
After listening to the people speak during the May 14 meeting, the council members agreed to modify the ordinance to add the Paola Farmers Market as another exception. Only one food truck will be allowed, though, each Saturday during the market, according to the modified ordinance, which was unanimously approved.
The council members also asked that the food truck be parked on the southeast corner of the Square, where the DoNutty Professors food truck has been previously set up.
Renee and her fellow group members agreed that would be acceptable, and they said they would make sure to handle the application process for the farmers market food truck vendor each week.
Renee was originally planning to set up the Bull Creek BBQ food truck in the allotted city parking lot for the opening of the farmers market Saturday, May 18, to sell farm fresh eggs from Rocking Goat Farms, but she was asked during the meeting to wait until the ordinance becomes official after publication in the May 22 edition of The Miami County Republic.