Food trucks get green light in Dunn, under conditions

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Dunn City Council amended an ordinance pertaining to the operation of food trucks in downtown.

Assistant City Manager Mathew Boone outlined the new parameters prior to last week’s public hearing. The amendments required food trucks operating in downtown and other areas in the city to acquire a $40 permit, pass all proper health inspections and codes and have certification properly displayed and maintain a certain noise level.

“They have to do all of this if they offer food to the general public or in the public right of way,” Boone said. “There also are different oversights. They also have to have specific fire extinguishers and things like that so when you’re running a business in the right of way you’re doing so in a safe manner and abiding by the regulations that are in place.”

Dorothy Atkins from the Organic Butcher Shop on West Broad Street spoke in favor of the amendments, telling council members she recently purchased a food truck as an extension of her business and has received nothing but positive reactions from customers. Atkins, when asked of her plans regarding the food trucks, said she will use it not only in Dunn, but places like Angier and Fuquay-Varina. Her initial plans focused around opening the food truck for service locally maybe twice a month.

“In the last month or so when I heard this ordinance was being considered I talked to customers, a couple hundred, and asked them what they thought if we would do it twice a month, every other Friday,”said Atkins. “Everybody thought it was a great idea. I think that people would like the idea of having different places to eat in downtown Dunn. We could even do dinner. It could be anything. The possibilities are endless. I think people have a misconception like this is something you would see at a construction site. This is nothing like that. This is good food that is prepared that I think people would enjoy.”

Andy Wermel moved to Dunn from Austin, Texas, which he said is an area famous for offering a wide variety of food trucks to the general public. Wermel told council members that he felt Dunn still has room to grow when it comes to attracting a wider assembly of choices and food trucks would help meet that demand.

“I felt I had a perspective that might lend some information to the decision-making process,” said Wermel. “While Dunn is growing the options that it does have to dine, choices are slowly picking up. Food trucks enable the public to experience a wide variety of foods. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Dunn and Harnett County.”

Boone addressed a citizen question regarding having a food truck on private property, saying the ordinance requires operators to conduct business in certain designated districts and during special events.

Mayor William Elmore said the amendments clear up issues surrounding the rise and regulation of food trucks in city limits.

“We have a couple of food trucks that operate around town on a daily basis,” Elmore said. “They’re not regulated at all and the city absolutely gets no money out of it, no fees. This will help clean some of that up as well as introduce the opportunity for food trucks to come.”

Council members unanimously approved the new amendments.

“I hope to see food trucks often and a lot in our town,” said Councilman David Bradham. “We should welcome anyone who wants to do that and we should help our city grow as much as we can.”

Eliot Duke can be reached at eduke@mydailyrecord.com or at 910-230-2038.

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