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A customer waits at a food truck in Madison. The City of Burlington approved an ordinance on Tuesday prohibiting food trucks in Downtown except for special events. 

BURLINGTON — Summer fun means sun, music and more recently, food trucks.

While the City of Burlington doesn’t have any registered food trucks, they are becoming a staple of outdoor events.

The Burlington Community Aquatic Center’s committee had the Los Agaves Mexican food truck cater their Sneak A Peek fundraiser last weekend. And Mercantile Hall owner Wendy Lynch plans on having an event with a beer garden inside and food trucks parked outside called “Trucks and Taps,” scheduled for July 1.

City Administrator Carina Walters said the city has been approached by interested vendors and wanted to put some regulations in place. The ordinance also applies to food carts.

The City Council’s Committee of the Whole discussed the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance requires that food trucks and food carts:

  • Acquire and maintain permits and undergo inspections. For 2018, the operator’s license will cost $50, same as a direct seller’s license, but the city can revisit the fee in the future.
  • Maintain a distance of 10 feet from the nearest edge of any building or vehicle and 2 feet from the curb;
  • Park so that their customer service area faces the curb;
  • Not operate within a 100-foot radius of any licensed food establishment;
  • Either provide their own power or plug into an establishment’s electrical power with their written permission;
  • Operate within the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday;
  • Not operate within 500 feet of any event that is licensed and sanctioned by the city, including farmer’s markets, fairs, carnivals and other special events, without obtaining a permit or permission.

Representatives from downtown Burlington restaurants expressed their concerns during the discussion.

Don Golan, owner of Flippy’s Fast Food, 401 N. Pine St., took issue with how low the costs were for running a food truck — he said his annual restaurant licensing fee is $690.

“The trucks that are going to come, they’re just going to come in, collect and go home,” he said.

Golan recommended that instead of allowing trucks downtown, the city should specify other areas where they could go.

“Do we have a business district where they could park?” he said. “That would be a place that I would like to see them go.”

Walters said that based on the owners’ comments, city staff will review the ordinance before it is brought to the full council for a vote, possibly by their next meeting on June 5.

Racine’s ordinances

The City of Racine already has mobile food establishment licensing ordinances on the books, but City Administrator Jim Palenick said they’re in the process of clarifying some of the rules, particularly about where and when they can set up shop.

“We’re currently in the process to update and institutionalize laws in regard to food trucks,” he said. “We haven’t seen a lot of them, but they’ve worked pretty well.”

The city’s website says mobile food establishments must follow the same requirements as regular restaurants and food service vendors in terms of licensing and inspections.

Downtown Racine Corp. Executive Director Kelly Kruse said the city has been “very helpful” with events that involved food trucks, such as Party on the Pavement and the Fire and Ice Festival.

“The trucks that are going to come, they’re just going to come in, collect and go home.” Don Golan, owner of Flippy’s Fast Food, 401 N. Pine Street, who was concerned about food trucks stealing business

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Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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