Brookfield trustees are likely to vote later this month to require food truck operators to register those businesses with the village and pay an annual fee if they want to sell products at public and private events, while parked on village streets or private property in Brookfield.
There are already local businesses who have their own food trucks – Beach Ave. BBQ and Chicago Donut Company, are two of them – and others have been invited to sell food at events such as the Brookfield Art Festival and the Brookfield Holiday Celebration.
While the village hasn’t encountered any particular problems, officials are seeking to enact some sort of regulations in order to ensure public health and safety rules are being followed and limit any liability.
“There are operators that have not gone through the proper county food handling requirement, who may not carry the appropriate liability insurance and also fire safety matters that they haven’t gone through,” Village Planner Kate Portillo told elected officials during an initial discussion of the issue on Jan. 9.
At a follow-up discussion of food truck regulations at their meeting on Jan. 23, trustees appeared to settle on a basic framework, for now, that will impose an annual $50 fee to obtain a food truck license and will require documentation of local, county and state food prep and handling standards, meet sanitation and life-safety standards and proof of liability insurance.
The new food truck section of the code also specifically states food trucks will operate from temporary locations and must meet legal parking requirements, including time limits.
Food trucks will need to obtain further permits if they intend to operate in a place where they’ll be obstructing a public right-of-way, whether its public parking, a sidewalk or street.
In those instances, the food truck operator will need to apply for a temporary use and event permit, a new process the village board recently approved.
Trustees at this time said they did not feel there was a need to include language in the code requiring food trucks to operate outside of a minimum distance from any brick-and-mortar restaurants and bars.
Because food trucks are sometimes seen as direct competitors to restaurants, some municipalities include such language. In Brookfield’s case there are some restaurants, like Beach Ave. BBQ and, in the past prior to their closure, Tom N Lou’s 34 Drive In, that invited food trucks to operate just outside their doors.
Portillo told trustees on Jan. 23 that the food truck-restaurant distance issue has not been a problem to date, and that parking time limits are enough to prevent a food truck from setting up shop all day in one spot in proximity to brick-and-mortar eateries.
“I think the intention in bringing this forward to the board was to create conditions that are least prohibitive, that would encourage food trucks to operate in our village,” Portillo said. “We do recognize that creates the unknown, we don’t know if there might be issues in the future, and we can revisit this in the future.”
There was agreement among trustees, however, to scrap an earlier recommendation to waive the license fee for any food truck operating only at village-sponsored events. Trustees thought it a matter of fairness to make every food truck operator pay the same fee.
Ice cream trucks and other mobile food operations, which have had their own licensing process in the past, will also be rolled in to the new code and will see their annual fee drop from $100 to $50 to match the food truck fee.