August 19, 2019
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York has banned food trucks on public property since 1982. Selectmen aren’t ready to change that.

Richard Beauchesne | The York Weekly
Richard Beauchesne | The York Weekly
York selectmen are still not convinced about letting food trucks set up in public spaces.

YORK, Maine — The Board of Selectmen are marginally more interested in allowing food trucks on public property in town than they were when the idea was first broached earlier this summer — but only marginally.

Selectman Marilyn McLaughlin, who is championing the concept, brought the issue back before her colleagues Monday night, in hopes of getting them to begin work on an ordinance that would narrowly allow food trucks. And they did agree to ask Town Planner Dylan Smith to look into the matter.

When Smith said, “I’m hearing you say, you want to walk before you run,” chair Todd Frederick responded. “I’d rather crawl before we walk.”

[Board, property owner hope cluster of food trucks can revitalize ‘barren landscape’]

Smith said currently, per a 1982 ordinance, food trucks are not allowed on public property anywhere in town. In order to allow them, that ordinance would need to be changed. But he also stressed that the wording could limit where and when they were allowed.

More, he said he believes food trucks would “promote social capital and community togetherness. Certainly, that’s what you’re hearing in other communities. What I’ve heard is that the sidewalks in the village go up at 4:30. Maybe food trucks are a way for the sidewalks to stay down longer.”

McLaughlin stressed that the selectmen will “control exactly what we want to see in terms of exactly what kind of food trucks we want, where we want them, at what set locations. We determine exactly what the food trucks would be,” she said.

She mentioned the Bog Road field as a good place for food trucks, for instance. “If there’s a game and you want something to eat, you don’t have to pack food and it’s a community event. It would be a kid-friendly thing, and a grown-up friendly thing.”

But as happened the last time this was discussed, her colleagues raised a number of concerns. For instance, Mike Estes asked if the food trucks would be competing with the parent-run concession stand at Bog Road.

“If we’re going to allow food trucks on public property, are we going to allow ice cream trucks to go through neighborhoods, or hot dog trucks selling hot dogs on York Harbor Beach like they used to?” he said. But he also said he was not opposed to beginning an ordinance review process that would include public comment.

[Sanford the latest York County community to allow food trucks]

Robert Palmer and Liz Blanchard both maintained, as they did before, that they were concerned about the impact on local year-round restaurants. “I have no problem providing food trucks at sporting events, but I’m afraid we’re going to open a can of worms. We would have to be very restrictive with it,” Blanchard said. Palmer said he was concerned that trucks could come in for two months, “taking away business” from local restaurants.

So they basically turned to Smith and asked him to “crawl” forward with a proposal for an ordinance. He responded, “I think there’s a mechanism to allow something to occur” and said he would get back to them.

 



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