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Food trucks may be permitted by Town Meeting vote

By Betsy Levinson -betsy@theconcordbridge.org

Whether or not local restaurants can operate mobile food trucks at popular outdoor events in town is coming up for a vote at the annual Town Meeting in April.

The Planning Board reviewed the zoning amendment at a recent meeting and discussed possible revisions before the final language is included in the annual Town Meeting warrant.

The article would amend the zoning bylaw to allow mobile food trucks as an accessory use to a restaurant.

Restaurateurs are not currently permitted to have a food truck operate out of their establishment. The amendment limits out-of-town restaurants to operate their trucks up to 52 days a year. Local restaurants would not be limited to the one-day-a-week limit.

“The purpose of this (article) is to allow mobile food establishments on a temporary basis as a way to encourage economic vitality and options for residents and visitors without jeopardizing public safety or significantly impacting local restaurants,” the article states.

Additional requirements include no more than two trucks on a property at the same time, and a ban on parking on a public road unless authorized by the Select Board. Each food truck must have the OK of the health and police departments for a specific time and location.

Ice cream trucks “shall be exempt from” the once-a-week limitation and would be permitted to drive on public roads but couldn’t park for extended periods on a public road.

Annual events like the Tree Lighting celebration that drew 5,000 people this year, the West Concord Porchfest drawing 2,000 people, or the upcoming 2025 Revolution Celebration which will draw an estimated 200,000 visitors will cause a “significant strain on local restaurants and businesses.”

Existing restaurants could operate a truck as part of their business, after getting a Base of Operation License from the Health Department.

Planning Director Elizabeth Hughes offered several changes to the language, which will go before the Select Board and the moderator before it is included in the list of items to be voted on.

Final language for the article is due Jan. 4, 2023.

“We want to balance the use of these on a temporary basis and respecting the restaurant owners,” Hughes said.

Board member Sue Felshin likened the proposed article to a one-day liquor license that is granted by the Select Board.

Board Chairman Nathan Bosdet noted that the initial guidelines will be revised before inclusion in the warrant.

Stephan Bader, attending via Zoom connection, asked about the trash generated by food trucks, to which Hughes answered that trash is the responsibility of the restaurant owner overseeing the truck, along with other health-related measures.

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