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City of Henderson Board of Commissioners Hear Food Truck Presentation

City of Henderson Board of Commissioners Hear Food Truck Presentation

Bill Stephens

March 16th, 2016

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NEWS RELEASE

HENDERSON, KY, March 15, 2016– Food trucks already are allowed in the City of Henderson, the Board of Commissioners heard during a presentation Tuesday night aimed at helping the panel decide whether to expand the opportunities for mobile vendors.

According to City of Henderson Public Information Officer Donna Stinnett, the presentation by City Attorney Dawn S. Kelsey came during a Commission work session that also included a proposal for an employee health clinic and a report on pavement management.

Food trucks are often a part of downtown festivals and events where a special permit has been issued, such as the W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival, the Tri-Fest, and the Downtown Henderson Partnership’s twice-annual Artisan Markets.

Food trucks with temporary sales also are allowed in highway commercial, central business district and general business zones and as a conditional use in shopping centers, Kelsey told the commissioners.

Operators must comply with health and fire regulations, meet the required setback for the zone they’re in, have only one vending operation per parcel, offer at least two parking spaces and have a letter or lease of agreement from the property owner.

Kelsey explained that city of Henderson staff researched the food truck requirements for other cities as part of the presentation about what to do next.

Covington allows food trucks only on private property in commercial districts. Lexington Fayette County allows them in commercial zones and parks, and in areas adjacent to a park if that park grants a permit.

Owensboro allows foods trucks in all zones except residential, and there is an increased permit fee for the Entertainment District. (Owensboro currently has two trucks with permits.)

Evansville allows food trucks in two zones: Near the Civic Center complex and in the Redevelopment Zone a few blocks away.

Kelsey said city staff evaluated several areas for potential location of food trucks, noting that generally “we do not want food trucks in residential areas.”

Areas explored included the central business district, Audubon Mill Park, The Depot (tourism office) parking lot on the riverfront, Central Park, Community Park, Atkinson Park and the John F. Kennedy Community Center.

All would be potential locations, but some have greater challenges than others, Kelsey said.

Food trucks need to be parked parallel to the street for safety reasons. Because a large part of downtown has angled parking, a food truck could occupy as many as four to five spaces.

“That would hinder parking availability for the central business district and judicial center employees,” Kelsey said, particularly around Central Park.

Atkinson Park, Community Park and the JFK Center all have plenty of space and picnic tables, but potential customers might be fewer than in other areas.

Audubon Mill Park has adequate space and parallel parking for the trucks, but the grade between the sidewalk and street is as much as 28 percent in some places, making it a safety issue.

Kelsey said the research indicates that The Depot parking lot would be the best location for a variety of reasons:

–  There are at least a couple of ways the trucks could be configured.

–  Customers could use the picnic tables in Audubon Mill Park, which is already a favorite lunch spot in night weather.

–   It’s accessible to both pedestrian and driving customers and has plenty of space to park (approximately 20 spaces after those reserved for the Tourism Commission and Historical Society staff members).

–   Sidewalks provide good access for those with mobility issues.

Kelsey noted some things to consider in allowing the expansion of food trucks. They include available parking, hours of operation, the cost of a permit, liability insurance and health regulations.

After discussion and some comments from citizens, the Commission will move forward with drafting regulations changes to expand food trucks opportunities on city property and right-of-way.

The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners is 5:30 p.m., March 22, in the Assembly Room.

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