Food truck rules get final OK

By Jason Hawk -

Rules for traveling taco stands, grill jockeys, ice cream trucks, and other food vendors were adopted Monday by Amherst city council.

They come after a year of embargoes on food trucks, spurred by concerns over a mobile vendor who set up downtown last summer.

Permits will be required for all food trucks that set up in Amherst — a decree welcomed by councilman Ed Cowger.

He described how an ice cream truck recently struck a constituent’s car in the city’s second ward, causing $6,000 worth of damage. Cowger said both vehicles were uninsured.

A new chapter of the Amherst law book has been written to control mobile vendor operations.

Almost all food trucks will have to operate in commercial zones — ice cream trucks are the exception — and vendors will have to pay an annual fee of $235.

To get a permit, operators will have to provide a description of the vehicle or temporary structure they plan to use, trash storage and disposal plans, electric and water connections needed, details about food and merchandise that will be sold, evidence that all state and county health and vending licenses have been obtained, the proposed sales location, and at least $1 million in insurance coverage.

Food trucks can only operate from 9 a.m. to midnight. Stoves and other heating devices have to be inspected by firefighters and the trucks won’t be allowed within 100 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

If operating in the historical downtown district, the vendor will have to get design review board approval.

Vendors on private property for birthday parties, fundraisers, and other affairs still have to get a permit, but the fee will be waived. They’ll have to park away from public sidewalks and the street.

Ice cream sellers can only roam neighborhoods from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can’t operate within 40 feet of an intersection or traffic control device, or within two blocks of any school when class is in session.

Breaking the new food truck law is a fourth-degree misdemeanor and carries a fine of at least $250.

The rules were adopted 6-0 by council with at-large Phil Van Treuren absent.

They’ll go into effect Aug. 8.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk