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story.lead_photo.caption Members of the Lowell Planning Commission on Monday night discuss a new proposal that would allow mobile food truck parks to operate in the city. - Photo by Alexander Nicoll

LOWELL -- The Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved a new ordinance that would allow multiple food trucks to operate in the same location, which would pave the way for the city to house mobile food vending parks.

The commission voted 6-0 in favor of the ordinance but only on the basis certain changes to the ordinance it discussed in the meeting were met.

The first change would be to increase the minimum number of parking spots for each food truck from two to three.

The second change would be to increase the duration of the permit from six months to a year. City staff and commissioners were split on whether to change it, with proponents on each side citing different reasons for wanted a six-month or yearlong permit.

Commission chairman James Milner said he liked the idea of the permit only lasting six months because that would give vendors time to "do what they do, clean up their site and come back a year later and reapply."

The commission opened up the floor to the few food vendors and owners in attendance to receive their input on what they thought would be a good number of parking spaces to have and the idea of a one-year permit versus a six-month one.

There was a general consensus two parking spots were not enough but no number could be agreed on until Milner suggested three. Vendors and owners also were in support of a yearlong permit.

One of the vendors, Hutch Preston, who owns and operates Pupp's BBQ food truck, said he wanted the one-year permit to provide more security for him and his family.

"I don't want to have to find somewhere else in six months," Preston said. "If I can't sign a year lease, then I'm going to have to worry in six months what I'm going to do to support my family."

Overall, he said he was pretty happy with the commission's decision to approve the ordinance. Preston said he operates in Lowell occasionally but usually drives six hours to Smackover because that's where he finds a lot of his business.

The city allows a single food truck to operate on any commercial lot now.

The third would be to clarify some of the language in a section of the ordinance that describes the conditions that would need to be met before someone would have to get a permit to operate a park in the city.

Milner said he thought the wording of the section could be interpreted that park owners could only have two food trucks on their property when the intended meaning of it was that if an owner wanted to have two or more food trucks on their property, they would have to get a permit first.

The ordinance will be decided on by the City Council tonight but if it passes, it will not take affect until 30 days later, said Kris Sullivan, who is the city's planning and economic development director.

Mayor Eldon Long said he had no problem reviewing the ordinance a year later to go over what is working or not working and allow the commission to tweak it to how it sees fit.

"It's a great thing trying to meet what the community wants by providing this service," Long said.

NW News on 07/18/2017

Print Headline: Lowell planners approve food truck park ordinance

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