Debate continues over food truck ordinance

Debate continues over food truck ordinance

MARQUETTE — If you’ve spent much time in downtown Marquette, you’ve probably seen at least one food truck in the area.

These mobile restaurants are delicious, but regulating them has become a challenge. Owners of food trucks and brick–and–mortar restaurants met today to talk about the issue of a food truck ordinance.

Currently, food trucks are only allowed to operate in public locations if they’re flagged down, and they must move on after serving that customer. They can also serve food in private locations with permission, but they usually have to pay a fee to do so. Some food truck owners feel that these rules favor brick–and–mortar business.

“It’s not the government’s job to ensure that any one particular business succeeds at the expense of another. If it was their job to make sure that any one particular business succeeds, then they need to protect mine also,” said Tom Curry, owner of Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque.

But, the Downtown Development Authority and the Marquette City Commission say that’s not the case. They’re more concerned about parking and congestion issues.

“One of the most important things that we have to remember is that it’s our responsibility to look out for the health and welfare and safety of the community. We could be in a situation where there are a lot of people that have interest in food trucks, you could have a lot of activity on public streets and it’s important that you make sure that you do permit those to operate in a manner that’s safe for the public,” said Dennis Stachewicz, Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Marquette.

In order to combat those issues, specific locations for food trucks were discussed, as well as times that food trucks could operate. But certain times and locations that work well for one food truck might not work so well for another.

“I can understand them wanting to regulate congestion, but sometimes in a downtown area, congestion can be a good thing. If there’s not room for someone to park right in front of my food truck or right in front of this restaurant and they have to park a block down the way and walk, they pass several other businesses where they have the opportunity to go in and do business at those stores,” added Curry.

It’s not clear yet how the ordinance will change, but one thing is certain: these food tucks aren’t going anywhere.