April 22, 2018
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Sanford the latest in Maine to consider food truck rules

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
April Garcia greets customers in her El Corazon food truck on Spring Street in Portland in this 2013 file photo. Sanford is the latest Maine community considering ordinance language to regulate food trucks.
By Tammy Wells, Journal Tribune

Love those food trucks? Got a hankering for a fresh, innovative take on a burger, a tasty Maine lobster roll or some Indian or Mexican food? Fish tacos? A burrito? A hot dog with chili, sauerkraut or whatever suits your fancy?

Wish there were food trucks in Sanford and Springvale village?

There could well be, come spring.

Councilors and city staff on the zoning subcommittee began the discussion Tuesday afternoon, looking at what regulations might come into play to accommodate the mobile vending units, as food trucks are called in municipal parlance.

Among the proposed regulations are that the mobile units could not legally operate within 150 feet of a licensed restaurant, and must move at least 100 feet once every 12 hours. The units would be required to obtain a city license, a state victualer’s license and follow other state and municipal regulations. The current proposal would allow 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. operation.

At present, the ordinance amendments that spell out regulations are in the crafting process. The city is looking at having an ordinance in place by the spring.

Food trucks have proliferated across the country and across Maine in recent years. Most operate on the street — others strike arrangements with private property owners, as a few have done in Sanford in the past.

This summer, El Camino Fresh Mexican Grill opened at JD’s Redemption on Route 5 in Waterboro and also sets up at area events. The food truck has closed up shop for the winter, but plans to reopen in the spring.

Ocean Roll offers lobster rolls, fish ‘n chips and the like on a private lot in Kennebunk and folks who visit Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth may be familiar with Bite into Maine, the May-to-October food truck that offers Maine lobster rolls and other lobster-inspired lunches.

And of course, there’s Portland, where street-based food trucks abound.

It has been several years since there was a mobile food truck in Sanford. When Sanford’s municipal government changed from a board of selectmen/representative town meeting format to a council/manager form of governing, a selectman’s policy regarding mobile food vendors “went away,” Codes Enforcement Officer Shirley Sheesley told the subcommittee Tuesday. Councilor Joseph Hanslip recalled complaints about the noise from the generator and some other issues regarding a mobile vendor that set up on Main Street several years ago.

For the most part, food trucks don’t exist in the city, though there have been a few on private property, which is a different circumstance than a mobile vending unit. “The only ones we’re currently allowing (mobile vending units) is on private property,” Sheesley told the subcommittee.

There are exceptions however, food trucks have been at local festivals and other special events, along with nonprofit concession stands.

City Planner Beth Della Valle said the subcommittee might look at land use and zoning and consider if the mobile vending units would be desirable in all residential locations.

“I’d have more concern about not allowing them in, as long as they’re mobile vending units, as long as they’re on the street,” said Councilor Robert Stackpole.

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