Food truck ordinance on the table in Grosse Pointe Woods

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 22, 2022

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The increasing popularity of food trucks has spurred the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council to explore a way to regulate this new dining option.

Sitting as a Committee of the Whole, the council discussed creating a food truck ordinance during a meeting June 6.

“A lot’s been going on in the last couple of years about food trucks, and we feel like we need to put something in place,” Mayor Arthur Bryant said.

Woods Building Official Gene Tutag said they “don’t really have any regulations” on the books currently with regard to food trucks, but the city is increasingly fielding requests from churches, community groups and others that want to bring in a food truck or two for an event.

“We’re not against the trucks,” Tutag said. “We just want to regulate them (to be fair to all businesses).”

The proposed ordinance defines food trucks — referred to in the ordinance as “mobile food vending” — as motorized or nonmotorized vehicles, trailers, or carts from which food and/or beverages are sold or served. It requires food trucks to obtain a permit from the city before they can lawfully operate in Grosse Pointe Woods, filling out an application that includes when and where the truck will be operating and copies of applicable licenses or permits issued by the county and state. Approval would require review by the Building Department, Public Safety Department “and any other necessary City departments,” according to the draft ordinance. A daily fee payable to the city would be established by a council resolution.

“This is up to the City Council to set the fee,” Tutag said.

“I think this (ordinance) was very thought out,” City Councilwoman Angela Coletti Brown said.

Coletti Brown asked if the city would charge a different fee for businesses based in the Woods that have their own food trucks, as is the case for certain restaurants. Tutag said he wasn’t aware of other cities charging different fees for food trucks based on this criteria; he said most cities charge vendors about $50 to $100 per day.

Tutag said the proposed ordinance had been in front of the Woods Planning Commission for its input and review over multiple meetings. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the draft ordinance May 24.

Food trucks would only be allowed to operate during special events, such as a fair, block party, sidewalk sale or business opening. In response to a question from City Councilman Michael Koester, Tutag said businesses wouldn’t be allowed to have food trucks operating on their premises on a regular basis, such as every weekend.

“If somebody wants a kitchen, they should have a kitchen on-site, not a portable kitchen,” Tutag said.

The Committee of the Whole voted unanimously to refer the ordinance to the council for approval. At press time, a date for council approval of the ordinance hadn’t been set yet.