Asheville City Council preview: Food trucks for downtown

Asheville City Council preview: Food trucks for downtown-attachment0

One issue looms large on the agenda for tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting: new rules that would allow food trucks to operate in downtown. The issue has proven controversial, with some downtown restaurant owners mounting a concerted effort against the new rules. Also: interviewing (and picking) new Planning and Zoning Commission members.

The proposed rules establish permitting for food trucks, allow permits for 10 separate users downtown, and make running an unlicensed food truck downtown. Food trucks are already held to similar sanitation requirements as restaurants, enforced through the Buncombe County Health Department.

The issue has remained controversial for months, since food truck owners began asking for an end to the ‘90s-era rules excluding them from operating downtown. After some contentious meetings, he new rules passed the Downtown Commission on July 8 7-2, then, in a 3-3 tie, failed to get a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission. However, Council’s Public Safety committee found the new rules adequate and approved them unanimously Aug. 16. Council will make the final call tonight.

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association has asserted that it supports allowing food trucks downtown in concept, but that the new rules are too lax on enforcement, and released its own proposals, suggesting a pilot program for four or five trucks, held to the same standards as restaurants in terms of access to restrooms and other requirements. The Asheville Downtown Association has remained neutral, citing disagreements within its membership. Polling the ADA conducted indicates that opposition centers on the restaurant owners, with large majorities of downtown employees, residents and visitors favoring allowing the trucks to operate.

Before the meeting, Council will interview nine candidates for three open seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Changes in city ordinances have given the commission more power over development, and Council has correspondingly changed the interview process to make it more public. Readers can look over the resumes of the interviewees and choose their top pick here. Council is scheduled to vote on its picks at the formal meeting.

Council begins interviewing the candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission at 1:25 p.m. The formal meeting begins at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 23. Both take place in Council’s chambers on the second floor of City Hall. Xpress will cover the interviews and meeting live, via Twitter, using the #avlgov hashtag.

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