Council Again Ponders Food Truck Regulations

Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek.

Haverhill city councilors, following tonight’s joint council-school committee-mayor summit to fill a vacant school committee seat, meets in regular session to revisit a proposed ordinance amendment to allow food trucks to operate in the Central Business District.

The council’s Administration and Finance Committee last week unanimously approved returning to the full council a further amended ordinance proposal from the city, first sent to the committee last spring. At the request of the mayor’s Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam, newly amended language would allow food truck applicants to “propose for license from the city council any reasonable and permissible site from which to operate,” according to minutes from the committee’s Jan. 27 meeting.

“Any proposed site shall be reasonably designed to accommodate and provide for the public need, must not negatively impact public health or safety and may not negatively impact the quality of life while in operation pursuant to its license or while at the designated site,” the ordinance reads under a “permitted locations” paragraph. “Any licensed food truck must be in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance… at all times.”

As WHAV reported, discussions by Administration and Finance Committee to reform “outdated” food truck rules date back to March, 2015. At the time, Councilor William J. Macek said vehicles akin to large motor homes were replacing the traditional view of small hot dog carts. “Downtown is not a suitable parking location for these trucks,” he said then, explaining large trucks use multiple parking spaces and their compressors make too much noise. Since then, an ordinance proposal approved by the committee last April included language to restrict food trucks from the central business district, “except for special events as permitted by the city council.” It was sent back to committee last May after Van Dam told the council of a plan, using a grant, to designate for food vendors an area at the existing brick-paved plaza on the Merrimack Street side of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. Several councilors, including Michael S. McGonagle, had called the idea “insensitive” to downtown business that would compete with vendor trucks.

In August, WHAV reported Mayor James J. Fiorentini released plans to include a seating area in front of the parking deck with plastic furniture, benches and flower boxes using a $6,000 state grant. An artist’s rendering of the project, however, did not refer to food trucks on that site.

The Haverhill City Council meets in regular session at 7 p.m., tonight, or after the end of the joint school committee summit, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

3 thoughts on “Council Again Ponders Food Truck Regulations

  1. Why would the council even allow food trucks downtown? The restaurant owners are already under pressure with limited parking, parking fees, licenses for food, board of health inspections, liquor and a food tax.
    Just put a “fork” in the downtown restaurants if this is even considered.
    My suggestion is no food trucks at all in the inner city.
    Ball games and city events outside the inner city is OK

    • I agree. The current establishments are doing the best they can to keep busy. They pay real estate taxes, will the food trucks ? They also have to collect the FOOD TAX. will the trucks have to ? Are the trucks going to have the same inspections scrutiny as the restaurants ? How will they be monitored ? And for all of you climatologists, what about emissions from these trucks ?