Council isn't keen on mobile food carts
Johnstown residents won't see any food carts in the downtown area on a regular basis, at least not in the near future.
Two inquiries were made earlier this summer about locating portable food carts, or food trucks, in the downtown. One sought a spot on joint village and Monroe Township property near the fire station, but Village Council members have decided against allowing such carts.
"There was a consensus. ...We decided it was best to leave it the way it was," Council President David Keck said. "I don't look at it necessarily as a no, just not right now."
Councilwoman Sharon Hendren said an important factor is that restaurants are stakeholders in the downtown and in the community.
"We want to take care of our restaurants in town." she said. "It would affect the restaurants."
Both Keck and Hendren said if the question were to resurface, it could be reviewed again.
Village Administrator Jim Lenner prepared a report for council members that he presented during the Aug. 6 meeting.
In addition to the restaurants that have big investments in the downtown, Lenner said, it also comes down to having staffing to regulate food carts. The village currently does not have staff to do that work.
Although the village also currently does not have any formal rules regulating food carts, Lenner's report included what some nearby communities are doing.
In Pataskala, the city has a temporary-use section in its code that stipulates following proper parking, signs and sanitary regulations. The section does not specifically address food carts, though.
Granville issues sidewalk permits. However, the village generally does not support any private commerce that would compete with taxpaying stores, according to the information collected by Lenner.
Heath allows temporary food vendors to sell on both public and private property. A number of requirements are included, though, such as obtaining all pertinent permits for food sales and obtaining a vendor permit from the city at a cost of $100, plus a $500 returnable bond. Permits are issued for 30 days.
Food vendors are allowed in Johnstown for certain short-term community events, such as a car show that will be in town in a few weeks, Lenner said.
Teresa Monroe, clerk of council, said groups that hold special events, as well as those running concessions at football games, etc., are required only to file an application with the village for what basically amounts to a limited special use. They are allowed to have concessions for only the event they applied for and for whatever certain dates it would be in operation.
Monroe said the car show would be an example where a concession is allowed for that particular event.
What Johnstown does not have is any legislation that addresses a continuing operation, like food carts, that would use a location on a daily basis in the village for several months or more.
Lenner said he agrees with Keck and Hendren that the topic of mobile vendors likely will resurface eventually.
He said he understands the last time the issue arose was about seven or eight years ago. The council at that time also decided not to take action to permit the food carts.