Food trucks

The Hutchinson City Council approved the first reading of a new ordinance it hopes will streamline the licensing process for transient merchants and food vendors, especially food trucks, operating within the city.

The new ordinance would accomplish several goals. First and foremost it combines the previously separate ordinances that regulated food vendors and merchants/peddlers/solicitors, putting them all together under the same ordinance with the same regulations.

The change that will please most residents, however, is a new exemption that allows merchants, peddlers and vendors to operate on private property, with permission from the property owner, without a city license. This change would open the door to businesses such as the brewery hosting more food trucks on its premises.

When the food vendor ordinance was first brought up at a City Council meeting back in August, it was in response to a letter by Dan Hart, co-owner of Bobbing Bobber Brewing Co.

“The current license fee for a food vendor in Hutchinson is $125,” Hart wrote. “We are concerned this cost for a one-time visit would be prohibitive. To try and attract food vendors in from metros that may be an hour away, we would like to try and come up with a way to make it easier for these food vendors to come to our location and city.”

This new exemption of private property goes along with previous exemptions for multi-vendor events at the Hutchinson Event Center and McLeod County Fairgrounds, or events sponsored by the Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce of Tourism.

The final significant change to the ordinance is the addition of a temporary license for sales activities on public property.

The current food vendor ordinance only allows for an annual license that costs $125. The temporary license would cost $30 and be good for up to three consecutive days. Applicants are limited to up to four temporary licenses per calendar year. The cost of the licenses is to help offset city expenses for processing the licenses, performing background investigations on the licensees and possible enforcement.

“Frankly, with all the exceptions we have in the ordinance now, we probably aren’t going to get a whole lot of applications,” city attorney Marc Sebora said.

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