In front of a packed hall of citizens delivering multiple impassioned speeches, the Fairview Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to reject a proposed food truck ordinance after a month of community input.
Tamara Sands, co-owner of the food truck Jingo Java on Highway 96, looked into the room behind her during the public hearing.
“These people here are not my customers, they are my friends and my family,” Sands said. “We are different. There has to be a way for everyone to benefit.”
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The commissioners and mayor said the city would seek more suggestions from both mobile merchants and brick-and-mortar restaurants in the coming months.
The ordinance as presented at an Oct. 6 board meeting included language limiting the number of days and requiring the food trucks to provide sanitation. City leaders discussed why they think the new laws are needed, while food truck owners later went on to challenge some of the ordinance requirements at an Oct. 20 meeting.
How the idea of the food truck ordinance came about
City attorney Tim Potter said the discussion about the city’s food truck regulations began when a local brick-and-mortar company also wanted to set up a food truck and sell beer. City manager Scott Collins told the company the city couldn’t issue a beer license, mainly because the city hadn’t established guidelines for food trucks, Potter said.
“That’s a hole that needs to be filled. We just don’t have a food truck ordinance in this town,” Potter said. “I don’t think the staff has any preference at all about what the food truck regulation should say. We are open to any suggestions on this.”
At the Oct. 6 board meeting, the proposed ordinance included a language restriction that limited food truck operation to four days and required a flushable toilet within 450 feet of the site.
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Troy Sands, co-owner of Jingo Java with his wife, Tamara, said they followed the food truck ordinance of the city of Franklin when setting up their business. He said this was the only advice they had in Williamson County and assumed other municipalities would use the same ordinance.
Sands said their business is open six days a week because people want coffee every day.
More comments, now what?
Among the many citizens who addressed the committee—for 45 minutes of public comment—was Fairview resident LaRhonda Williams.
Williams urged city leaders to “rewrite” the ordinance and asked the commissioners — three of whom are mayoral candidates — to make a decision before the election.
“Don’t destroy a health company with irresponsible regulation,” Williams said.
Commissioner Lisa Anderson, the only commissioner to vote against the original food truck ordinance at the Oct. 6 meeting, showed empathy for the vendors and stated that she was also a small business owner.
Commissioner Brandon Butler, who said he had received more calls and emails about the matter than any other in years, expected “a sufficiently substantial change that a new reading and a fresh start would be warranted.”
“We probably should have had some of these (public hearings) earlier to discuss it,” Butler said.
Butler and Mayor Debby Rainey said Franklin’s food truck ordinance is a good example.
“Everything in the Franklin Ordinance, I think, covers all the problems we have here,” Rainey said.