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Food Trucks Get 'OK' In Bel Air

Town commissioners voted unanimously in favor of legislation that will allow food trucks to operate in specified areas in Bel Air.

The Bel Air Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allow food trucks in the town of Bel Air.

Food trucks will be allowed only in the areas outlined in the map here. The areas in blue are permitted for use and the areas highlighted in red are permitted right-of-ways. The roving businesses will also be subject to license fees of $240 for 90 days and $400 for one-year as well as designated times for operation.

Six people expressed their opinions on the legislation during public hearings that took place before the final vote. Most of the comments were in favor of food trucks.

Several food truck owners thanked the town for their forward thinking.

"This is the fastest growing segment in the food industry," Damien Bohager said.

Bridget Lloyd, owner of MaGerk’s Pub, said brick and mortar businesses have to pay real estate taxes and encouraged the town to set higher fees to ensure the only food trucks in town are serious businesses.

Commissioner Susan Burdette echoed several comments when she concluded her research showed food trucks in other cities are intended to compliment existing restaurants.

“We’re not going to park near a restaurant, I’ve never parked in front of a restaurant and I will never park in front of a restaurant,” Tom Arno, food truck owner, said during the public hearing.

Find live updates from the meeting below:

8:49 p.m.: The meeting is adjourned.

8:48 p.m.: Burdette said a Ravens rally is planned for Friday in town.

8:47 p.m.: The town offices will be closed Jan. 21 for Martin Luther King Day.

8:47 p.m.: The resolution is accepted with unanimous vote.

8:45 p.m.: Small explained the report outlines school capacity and where development may take place within the next six month. All public schools serving Bel Air are operating at less than 100 percent capacity and meet requirement for development.

8:45 p.m.: Reier moves to accept an amended Harford County Annual Growth report.

8:45 p.m.: The audit is accepted with unanimous vote.

8:44 p.m.: Burdette said the auditors had high compliments for the Town of Bel Air.

8:36 p.m.: The town has enough in the general fund to pay off short and long term debt, with more than $4 million in the fund and more than $2 million in debt, which is a good sign of the town’s financial health, Schlehr said. “The town’s financial situation is very sound,” Schlehr said.

8:32 p.m.: The sewer fund showed about $100,000 increase. “Both enterprise funds look to be in good shape,” Schlehr said.

8:29 p.m.: The town took in more than $400,000 in more than budgeted and spent about $200,000 less than budgeted.

8:28 p.m.: “While we still have a substantial undesignated fund it is smaller than it was last year,” Schlehr said.

8:25 p.m.: Schlehr said the town spent under budget and took in more revenue than budgeted. There were no internal control issues found, Schlehr said. He credited finance director Lisa Moody and her staff for the excellent audit this year.

8:24 p.m.: Reier moves to accept the town audit for Fiscal Year 2012.

8:24 p.m.: The motion carries in unanimous vote.

8:23 p.m.: Town Administrator Chris Schlehr said Krantz has the background needed, is a Bel Air resident and stood out in the interview process. “Perhaps the only negative is that he has a tie to Pittsburgh,” Schlehr said.

8:22 p.m.: Reier moves to appoint Michael L. Krantz as director of administration.

8:22 p.m.: The motion carries in unanimous vote.

8:22 p.m.: Carey moves to approve the fee schedule resolution.

8:21 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Preston moves to approve the second ordinance, 748-12. The motion carries with a unanimous vote.

8:21 p.m.: The board unanimously approves the ordinance.

8:20 p.m.: “We didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and prevent them from being entrepreneurs,” Hopkins said.

8:20 p.m.: “I don’t think we’ve had this much press since the deal with fortune tellers,” Commissioner David Carey said.

8:19 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Preston said he was concerned that town residents were not represented, but because of the turnout and positive feedback he feels comfortable with the outcome.

8:18 p.m.: All present vote to approve the amendment.

8:17 p.m.: Carey moves to amend the ordinance by deleting the final sentence so it is clear that only the board of commissioners can change the permitted areas.

8:16 p.m.: Reier moves to approve ordinance 757-12 dealing with itinerant dealers, peddlers and solicitors.

8:15 p.m.: Burdette said in her research food trucks are there to compliment existing businesses. “I also want to thank The Aegis and The Patch,” Burdette said. “Both The Aegis and The Patch did a tremendous job covering this.”

8:14 p.m.: Carey explained the town generally establishes fees to cover the cost it takes town staff to do the work.

8:12 p.m.: Lynch returned to the podium to agree with Lloyd and said fees should certainly be appropriate, but not excessive because brick and mortar businesses pay property taxes and these food trucks do not.

8:10 p.m.: Erikson Hill returned to the podium with permission to say he agreed with Lloyd, except that fees should remain reasonable so Bel Air does not make it impractical for the businesses to come to town at all.

8:08 p.m.: Bridget Lloyd said these businesses are not paying town taxes, like her own business, MaGerk’s Pub, and if the fees are serious then only the serious food truck owners will be in town. She also thanked the town for being cooperative during this process.

8:06 p.m.: Staff proposes changing fee for solicitors to $50 for 30 days. The legislation would make peddler licenses $190 for up to 90 days and $240 for a one-year license, for itinerant dealers $240 for 90 days and $400 for one-year license.

8:05 p.m.: Small said when it is not practical for a business to provide open space, a fee in lieu of open space is allowed. A one-year license for itinerant dealers is available.

8:04 p.m.: Commissioner Susan Burdette movew to approve the resolution dealing with fees for food trucks.

8:04 p.m.: There are no comments and the hearing closes.

8:02 p.m.: Commissioner David Carey move to introduce an ordinance deleting and repealing the town code chapter dealing with itinerant peddlers and replacing it with the new legislation.

8:02 p.m.: The hearing is closed.

7:55 p.m.: Tom Arno, owner of food truck Cruiser Café thanked the town for considering allowing food trucks. “We’re not going to park near a restaurant, I’ve never parked in front of a restaurant and I will never park in front of a restaurant,” he said. He also asked the town not impose more mandatory minimums than required by state law already.

7:52 p.m.: Bohager said he thinks 25 feet and below in length is a reasonable length requirement. He also said all trucks have fire prevention systems and must pass health inspections.

7:50 p.m.: Damien Bohager thanked the town of Bel Air for their forward thinking on food trucks. “This is the fastest growing segment in the food industry,” he said.

7:50 p.m.: “I want to move forward together with the people of Bel Air, I want to be able to sell to my son’s friends and family friends,” Abrams said.

7:48 p.m.: “Top dollar is spent on these trucks,” Abrams said, characterizing them as gourmet kitchens on wheels.

7:47 p.m.: “We’re not looking to take away business from existing businesses,” Abrams said.

7:46 p.m.: “On our truck we are going to have three generations of our family,” Abrams said. “The long and short of it is it would be an ideal situation to operate my food truck solely in Bel Air, while it may not be realistic, that is what I strive for.”

7:45 p.m.: Wayne Abrams said he and his family have lived in Bel Air for 20 years and plans to open a food truck. He ran a store in the Harford Mall food court years ago.

7:44 p.m.: “Hopefully we can keep the boundaries tight” Lynch said “I’m not here to fight on any of it.”

7:43 p.m.: Richard Lynch of The Tower Restaurant and Buontempo Brothers said he appreciates the conversation the town participated in. “I’ve personally been there for 27 years.”

7:43 p.m.: “We never ever intend to pull up in front of a business on main street in Bel Air.” Hill said. He called food trucks a popular trend and a “nice feather in the cap of Bel Air.”

7:42 p.m.: “We are a Harford County-based food truck, we market ourselves that way and we are very proud of that.” Hill said. He added

7:39 p.m.: Erikson Hill, a food truck owner, said this is something he has wanted to do for a long time. “Those of you have eaten from the truck, or seen the truck, know that this is not some ‘roach coach.’”

7:39 p.m.: Small said staff recommends replacing the existing chapter with this ordinance.

7:35 p.m.: Small explains that blue areas on the attached maps are permitted areas where dealers can sell if the legislation is approved. The red areas are permitted right of way areas, parking spaces where dealers can sell if the legislation is approved.

7:34 p.m.: The legislation allows sale from metered parking spaces as long as the meter is paid and times are adhered to, Small said.. Insurance is required.

7:33 p.m.: With the proposed changes, you may sell only in public right of way, designated public parks and private property with permission and in designated areas, Small said. All sales are subject to day and time constraints and distance from sponsored town events.

7:32 p.m.: Currently it is illegal to sell out of a vehicle anywhere in town, including private property, Small said.

7:31 p.m.: Town Planner Kevin Small said it is currently not legal to sell out of vehicles. Town staff had a meeting with local business owners in December and there were concerns about the map of permitted areas as well as confusion about what the current ordinance permits and does not permit.

7:30 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Reier moves to approve the ordinance.

7:30 p.m.: First order of business is a public hearing on an ordinance dealing with itinerant dealers peddlers and solicitors.

7:30 p.m.: The board approves tonight’s agenda and minutes from the previous meeting.

7:29 p.m.: The meeting is called to order.

7:25 p.m.: Town commissioners take their seats.

hms January 08, 2013 at 08:15 PM
This is great news. We should support Local and small businesses of all kinds! I've always wanted to own a food truck, so it's great to know that if my dream ever comes to light, I can serve my local community!! Good decision on your part!!
Psychchick2013 January 08, 2013 at 09:10 PM
This is great!! I love WOLO's and Sweet devotions food truck. They are awesome and the food is always fresh at a great price. It doesn't hurt that the owners are nice as can be.

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