ES council considers food truck ordinance

Friday, November 18, 2016

Food trucks could be rolling into town next year.

On Monday night, the Eureka Springs City Council approved an ordinance regulating food trucks and trailers on a first reading. The ordinance says private property owners will apply for property permits and will arrange independently for the food truck vendors of their choice to operate on their site until Dec. 31 of that year. Food trucks are required to have all permits and licenses displayed prominently for inspectors, the ordinance says.

The ordinance addresses the designated areas where food trucks are allowed, as well as how many food trucks are allowed at specific sites. There will be one property permit for one food truck from the junction of Highway 62 to the northern city limit, from Spring Street to German Alley and from the intersection of Highway 62 to Eugenia Street. On Highway 62 and Highway 23 South, there will be two property permits for one food truck.

Property owner applicants will be entered into a once-a-year lottery held in mid-November, the ordinance says, with four separate lotteries held for Main Street, Center Street, Kings Highway and Highways 62 and 23. Food trucks must operate on the chosen sites by May 1, the ordinance says, or that site will be forfeited to the next available site owner on the prioritized list from the lottery. The ordinance says food trucks must be located at least 100 feet from any restaurant, unless the restaurant owner has given permission otherwise.

Alderwoman Mickey Schneider disagreed with the stipulation that food trucks can't be located within 100 feet of a restaurant. She remembered talking about the ordinance at a workshop, saying she was unhappy with the way the ordinance has turned out.

"I'm just so thrilled to death that the hour-long workshop we had didn't do as much as it should have. I'm telling you ... if you insist on having the 100-foot ruling from any restaurant, you are going to lose your butt in court for discrimination," Schneider said. "We're sitting here talking about legal fees and everything else. Fighting that battle will triple your legal fees."

She added, "Is anybody going to bother to look into the situation of discrimination ... or are you just going to blow it off and let the city waste a ton of money?"

Mayor Butch Berry asked city attorney Tim Weaver if the 100-foot rule is discrimination, and Weaver said he didn't think so.

"The reason I don't think there is, is you're actually adding a land use that's not at this time allowed. You're giving them what they didn't have before," Weaver said.

Also at the meeting, planning commission chairwoman Melissa Greene presented recommendations for a change in the code definition of bed and breakfast and the 200-foot rule. She started with the 200-foot rule.

The original rule, she said, states that no request for CUP in the R-1 Victorian residential zoning district that requests a change in use shall be granted if the property line where the request would take place is within 200 feet in any direction along the primary frontage streets of the property line of an existing CUP or legally non-conforming use offering the same or similar services. She read the new rule, saying no request for a CUP shall be granted if an existing CUP or legally non-conforming permit is within a 200-foot radius of any new application.

Greene moved on to the bed and breakfast definition. The original definition, she explained, says a bed and breakfast is a dwelling or area containing one or more structures, one of which is occupied by an owner or manager on-site where compensation and meals are provided generally for no longer than 30 days per guest. Greene said the definition states that a B&B can't have more than five units.

The new definition, she continued, says a bed and breakfast is a dwelling or area containing one or more structures in which rooms are rented to guests and a breakfast is prepared daily. She said the entire service, including food and lodging, are to be included in one stated price, and the owner or manager of the B&B must remain on-site.

Alderman Terry McClung asked how the definition reads in reference to the owner or manager of the bed and breakfast.

"It basically was ... [the owner] must reside on-site, and we tightened it up that it must be their principal residence, meaning it's their homestead," Greene said.

Alderwoman Kristi Kendrick asked how the commission plans to police this, saying she wasn't sure how a manager would register at the address of a bed and breakfast. The manager would put the address of the bed and breakfast on their driver's license and other documents, Greene said, to certify that they live at the address.

"Let's face it. How can you control that? I don't think you can," McClung said.

Kendrick added that she didn't know why the owners of a bed and breakfast are required to provide breakfast.

"I think the word is 'bed and breakfast,'" alderman David Mitchell said. "If you want to put your lodging under bed and breakfast, you better come up with something."

Kendrick said serving a breakfast has more to do with marketing than land use.

"If you don't want to serve breakfast, don't sit there and advertise yourself as a B&B," Schneider said.

"That's advertising," Kendrick responded. "That's not land use."

Berry asked the council if there were any changes that needed to be made to the definitions, and Kendrick said she'd like to tighten up the language saying owners or managers have to register the bed and breakfast as their primary domicile.

The council moved on to a request from Barbara Dicks to trade land for an easement. Dicks explained that there is a 60-foot plot on her land that runs between her property and her neighbor's.

"Also, there is an alley that I thought I owned which is a city alley apparently," Dicks said.

She said she'd like to trade the alley for an easement along Dairy Hollow Road so the parks commission can create a trail there. Parks director Justin Huss said the commission is completely behind Dicks' proposal.

"We've marked out our easement. This makes it a trade, and we feel like that's a good deal," Huss said. "It's something for something, which we always like to see. Parks wholeheartedly endorses the trade and anything we can do to support that."

McClung moved to draw up an ordinance taking the vacation from parks, and the council agreed to do so.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a resolution adjusting the city's 2016 budget. The resolution addresses increases in the general fund's revenue, including $20,250 for sales tax-operation, $3,600 for municipal fines, $14,000 for beverage taxes, $55,200 for ambulance services, $27,750 for transfers in and $10,000 for a police department grant.

The resolution outlines the general fund's expenses, with a decrease of $8,122 for retirement distribution. Increases in these expenses include $20,000 for legal services, $120 for uniforms, $27,500 for salary and wages and $10,000 for grant expenses. The resolution also includes an increase of $132,000 in transit revenue.

The council approved a resolution establishing free parking for two hours in December as well. The resolution says the city will have free parking for two hours a day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 between Spring Street and Main Street.

"This is an annual resolution we have had for years and years and years," Berry said.

The council agreed to allow Berry to apply for a Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District Inc. GIF grant to fund a cultural resource survey for the city. The grant will provide the city $6,200 to complete the survey, which is required by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, at City Hall.

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