The changes include removing a requirement that food trucks must be 50 feet from a street corner or sidewalk and adjusting the times food trucks would be able to operate.
The workshop began with more than half a dozen public comments, including from the owners of Wilderlove Coffee and Texas Twist and Shakes, two mobile food trucks that operate on the corner of McCown and Caroline streets in historic downtown Montgomery. The owners of the businesses also spoke at July 13 council meeting, where tensions ran high and allegations of a “personal vendetta” were thrown, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting.
Kade Jenkins, co-owner of Wilderlove Coffee, previously argued against the city’s proposed ordinances, which includes allowing mobile food vendors to sell between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and requiring a special-use permit to operate, saying he could not financially afford the permit. Katherine Jenkins, co-owner of the mobile coffee shop, said at the Sept. 30 meeting that they follow all necessary rules and regulations and should not be punished for doing so.
“If you’re here because you don’t like us because we’re taking up your parking or we’re not paying taxes or we’re not following the same rules as everyone else in town, I do ask that you re-evaluate your stance because those things aren’t true,” Katherine said.
Bill Clevenger, owner of Texas Twist and Shakes, a mobile ice cream truck, also said his business pays fair taxes and contributes to the city. Clevenger said his attorneys and the Texas attorney general’s office will be reaching out to council members and city staff for interviews and depositions regarding how the city has handled its food truck ordinances.
Clevenger previously threatened to sue the city at the July 13 meeting.
Clevenger ended his public comments by announcing his candidacy for mayor. Clevenger previously ran for mayor against Countryman in 2020, losing by about 30 percentage points, or 270 votes, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting.
After public comments, Countryman read well over a dozen emails from community members regarding food trucks in the city. Most asked the city to reconsider allowing food trucks in the historic district, saying food trucks do not fit with the aesthetics of downtown and raising issues such as food truck employees using private business’ restrooms.
Some of the emails Countryman read were positive, though, encouraging the city to continue allowing mobile food vendors in downtown.
Countryman made it clear that she does not oppose having food trucks in the city but said there needs to be specific regulations put forth to monitor how they operate.
“Nobody is opposed to food trucks,” Countryman said. “Nobody is opposed to small business.”
Part of the council's discussion revolved around what constitutes a “mobile” food vendor. According to Montgomery County regulations, mobile food trucks must be moved every 48 hours to dump waste and refill fresh water tanks.
While the council did not come up with a clear definition during the workshop, many council members seemed to agree that having wheels that allow the unit to move would make the food vendor “mobile.”
Dave McCorquodale, assistant city administrator and director of planning and development, was asked what he recommends City Council do to change the current policy. He suggested removing the requirement that mobile food units be parked more than 50 feet from any street corner or sidewalk and changing the times food trucks can operate.
Multiple council members suggested changing operating times from between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. for food trucks whose power does not come from a generator to allow food trucks that sell coffee or breakfast items to operate in the early morning. Food trucks that do use a generator for power would need to operate between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Council members discussed multiple other subjects, such as regulations regarding festivals, solving the issue of food truck employees using other business' restrooms and potential rules regarding operating a food truck in the historic district.
City Council did not vote on any proposed changes at the Sept. 30 meeting. McCorquodale said he would come back to the council at a later date with the proposed changes to vote on.