A cooperative effort between the Harker Heights Planning and Development Department and the Planning and Zoning Commission has produced a draft mobile food vendor ordinance for review and discussion.

Council members on July 21 got their first look at the proposed ordinance that arose from a resident’s request back in April to clarify requirements for mobile food vendors.

The Planning and Development team led by Joseph Molis, director of planning and development, reviewed current ordinances and could not identify any direct regulations for mobile food vendors or food truck courts.

City staff began consulting with numerous sources for input on potential mobile food vendor requirements, including the Council, P&Z and neighboring cities. They also collaborated with the Heights Chamber of Commerce for their assistance in gathering feedback from food truck operators.

The city currently maintains regulations regarding the safety of mobile food vendors that are more stringent than the requirements of neighboring communities. These requirements are adapted from the International Fire Code and are included in the draft ordinance.

Molis told council members Tuesday, “The staff believes a new chapter with the Code of Ordinances that regulates mobile food vendors and mobile food vendor courts would assist businesses, citizens and public officials in understanding their requirements and responsibilities.”

The purpose of this chapter in the ordinance is to protect the welfare of the city’s residents by monitoring and regulating Mobile Food Vendor businesses.

To this end, this chapter establishes a permit program for food vendors, imposes regulations of business operations and imposes civil penalties for violations of this chapter by mobile food vendors, according to Molis.

Some of the highlights of the ordinance include the following:

All mobile food vendors will obtain a mobile food vendor permit issued by the Fire Department for a mobile food vending unit before the food vendor can operate in the City.

A mobile food vendor permit issued under this ordinance expires one year after the date is issued. The vendor permit holder must file and application for vendor permit renewal not sooner than the 90th day and not later that the 45th day before the permit expires.

Concerning placement of mobile food vending units, the fire department suggests that they be separated from existing buildings and other food vehicles by a minimum of 10 feet and from any building entrances by 20 feet.

Upon request by Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Blomquist, the

Planning and Development team will continue to seek feedback concerning the draft ordinance language that states food vending units may not operate within 150 feet of any existing restaurant. Some of the council members suggested expanding that distance to 200 feet.

Other regulations in the ordinance state that a mobile food vending unit may not operate on a public street or right of way unless the unit is not obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic and is on sight for 15 minutes or less or that the vendor has received a special event permit from the city manager.

In addition, a mobile food vendor may not operate in a city park or on city property without a Special Event Permit or written permission.

The ordinance also lists regulations concerning food vendor courts, enforcement of the ordinance, penalties and signage.

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