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State College Considers Easing Restriction on Food Trucks

Food trucks will have more opportunities to do business in State College, pending approval of ordinance amendments by borough council next week.

Council will vote at its meeting on Monday to update the ordinance to allow “mobile food peddlers” in residential areas and borough parks, with an approved special event license. Currently, they are permitted only on private property in commercial districts of the borough.

Food trucks will continue to be required to be licensed by the borough as a mobile retail food facility.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the original ordinance was enacted to regulate food trucks, but as they have grown in popularity, some aspects of the measure have proven too restrictive or become outdated.

“One of the things that we ran into over the past year is that we have limitations over where these food trucks are allowed to operate and we have some events … in areas where they are prohibited where they would like to be able to use food trucks for various activities,” Fountaine said.

Because a special event application is required, food trucks can’t become daily fixtures doing business while parked on neighborhood streets. But they will be able to take part in special events where they were not permitted to do so before, such as neighborhood block parties and functions at churches located outside of the commercial districts.

Recently, requests to have food trucks at a church event, Welch Pool and an estate auction had to be turned down because they were not permitted under the ordinance.

“I think that this is a really good ordinance change because it allows more flexibility and removal of over restrictive geographical constrictions on food trucks, which are very popular,” Councilwoman Katherine Yeaple said “… I’d like to have them on my street for a block party. With this… restriction lifted in the ordinance it’s permissible. So I’m all in favor of this.”

Under the amended ordinance, food trucks would be able to operate between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., except in the commercial districts where there are no hour restrictions.

The ordinance will continue to prohibit “mobile food peddlers,” as the ordinance refers to them, from setting up shop in parking spaces or public rights of way, though vendors such as ice cream trucks can be stopped on the street along the curb only if a sale is taking place.

At a meeting in April, State College’s Board of Health unanimously recommended the ordinance amendments to council for approval.

“I love food trucks and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in church lots and at street parties,” Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said. “It’s long overdue. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and I’m really pleased to see that we have managed to clean this amendment up and open this up.

“I see passing it next week to be no problem at all, from my point of view at least.”

Borough council will meet at 7 p.m. on June 21.