Food truck discussion heats up Clinton Township board meeting

By: Dean Vaglia | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published June 22, 2022

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Of all the subjects discussed at the June 6 Clinton Township Board of Trustees meeting, nothing took longer to discuss than food trucks.

Brought to the board’s attention by township resident Tim Poterek, the food truck discussion began with the Northwinds subdivision seeking approval to have food trucks in the neighborhood throughout the summer and early fall. According to documents in the meeting packet, the original plan was to have one food truck in the neighborhood every other Tuesday evening. After the township notified Poterek that the truck would be operating outside of the township’s code of ordinances and all liability would be on him, he reached out to the township to rectify the issue.

The request from Northwoods comes as Clinton Township works to revise its ordinances regarding food trucks. All present members of the board expressed a desire to approve the trucks, though the details led the trustees off track.

“This board wants to have food trucks in the community,” Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said. “Right now, you cannot do it because, 50 years ago, we had an ordinance that says you could not do it. We are trying to revise that ordinance. We did not realize it was going to be so overwhelming.”

Food truck inspections — particularly when inspections occur, whose inspections are valid and how long inspections last — along with insurance were key points of contention. Trustee Mike Keys was curious as to why the township was requiring insurance as a condition for approval while previous food truck approvals did not require it. Clerk Kim Meltzer said requiring insurance would be in line with the work-in-progress ordinance. Keys also required the township fire marshal to inspect the food trucks, which Meltzer said was not a condition in the past.

What followed was nearly 50 minutes of discussion regarding how inspections could be carried out and where.

“These are all great conversations for the subcommittee and the committee,” Keys said. “But … we are approving one request here. And again, I know churches (one prior food truck applicant) are different, but it is sad that a group of residents come together and want to organize something, and we make them sit up here for an hour when the church was like, ‘Approved — just go and see the building department and the fire department.’ It is like if you know somebody at the podium and we trust that you are going to go do it, it kind of works out that way. If you are a group of residents, you get the cease-and-desist letter.”

All five members of the board approved the neighborhood’s request.

Food trucks were not the only heavy vehicles discussed by the board, which approved the Clinton Township Police Department’s request to pursue a Department of Defense 10-33 grant to loan a military-grade transport vehicle.

The vehicle is an unarmed mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, that will be used to transport the special response team in an active shooter situation without having to acquire an armored vehicle from the Warren Police Department during an ongoing emergency. The department plans on finding a low-mileage model in order to keep maintenance costs low. The board unanimously approved the request.

Some changes to elections occurred at this meeting and a special meeting on June 2. The board approved adding a temporary “election support specialist” position for the August primary at the June 6 meeting and, on June 2, moved the precinct 36 polling location at the Continuing Education Center to the Clinton-Macomb Public Library South Branch. The polling location change was deemed necessary after Disability Network Eastern Michigan found the Continuing Education Center was not up to 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act standards and that it would take too long to bring it up to standard.