Speed meeting

Last night’s Town Council meeting was one for the record books – three public hearings, completed in 1 hour and 18 minutes. But the agenda items – food trucks, expansion of a building and parking lots at Carol Woods, and a proposed amendment of stormwater management rules for new development – posed little controversy. All members were present, except Gene Pease; no explanation for his absence.

First up: regulations to allow food trucks. After meeting with people who have a stake in one side or the other of the issue, the Planning Department came up with a new set of regulations to address concerns. For instance, food trucks would be allowed on downtown property only when competing brick-and-mortar establishments were closed; elsewhere, food trucks could be open for business only when nearby restaurants were open. A half-time police officer would be hired to enforce the rules. One speaker urged planning for extra enforcement by the Board of Health to make sure food truck operators follow the same food-handling standards as restaurants.

One sticking point came up when Kristen Smith of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce said that downtown merchants were opposed to food trucks. No one seemed to know the Downtown Partnership’s official stance, but Smith raised the concern that legalities prevented the town from requiring that every food truck be affiliated with an Orange County restaurant. Local restaurateurs feared that on UNC game days – the restaurant equivalent of the day after Thanksgiving to retailers – food trucks would drive in from neighboring counties and drain business from Chapel Hill eateries. Unless that can be worked out, Smith said, the Chamber is opposed to food trucks.

Next: a special use permit application for an expansion that would add 18 apartments to an existing three-story building at Carol Woods, make access to the building more convenient from the parking lot and expand overflow parking for residents who have two cars or a boat(!). But management is asking for a reprieve from the bicycle parking regulation, to cut the required 92 spaces down to four, with the provision that if residents want more bike spaces, they’ll ask for them. Ed Harrison brought up the point that residents may not have need of bike parking, but once the Weaver Dairy Road improvements are done, staff may want to bike to work. And residents might not be as aggressive lobbying for staff requests.

Both issues – food trucks and the Carol Woods SUP – return to council Nov. 21.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. John Kramer

     /  October 18, 2011

    I hope they continue to hassle the food trucks, they are a great thing to have in Durham. Most of them have no interest in going to the people’s republic of Chapel Hill, too many overly strict rules. Meantime restaurants are full and lines are at every food truck in Durham. Thanks, Chapel Hill!

  2. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  October 18, 2011

    And neither Durham city nor Durham county gets any benefit from them.

  3. John Kramer

     /  October 18, 2011

    Ummm like the happily fed Durham residents don’t count as beneficiaries?

    So do you mean there is no tax benefit? Are you calling them tax cheats? Please explain your comment. How strange.

  4. Mark Marcoplos

     /  October 19, 2011

    The local economy certainly benefits from employed entrepeneurs.

  5. Scott Maitland

     /  October 19, 2011

    Now that you bring it up John, how will the authorities ensure that taxes are being paid? How will they ensure that they have the proper health inspection?

    The fact is that they can’t under the existing staffing. Consequently, we are left in a difficult situation, open the county up to monies being drained out of it and possibly poorly run establishments being allowed to serve in it, or invest in larger government to police the food trucks which will surely be a money losing effort by the county.

  6. John Kramer

     /  October 19, 2011

    Good questions, Scott. As I understand it, the trucks have to be associated with a bricks and mortar restaurant for means of inspection and communication.

    How do the authorities ensure that you claim all the cash income you take in? In any cash business it is up to the business to be honest.

    The fact is that they are booming in Durham, and call the health department there- they don’t have problems with the trucks- I have never heard of anyone getting sick.

    Chapel Hill is just not cool enough for food trucks, that is the real reason they are not there.

    And also the Town Council likes to micro manage businesses via over regulation as it does with lots of other town matters. Some economic development policy- but what one expects in a liberal college town!

  7. Scott Maitland

     /  October 20, 2011

    How do authorities ensure that I claim all the cash income I take in?

    First of all, in my restaurants literally 96% of payment is now via plastic whereas most food trucks only take cash. Consequently, there is a record for the authorities in brick and mortar establishments. Any true “cash only” business needs to be viewed with suspicion in my opinion. Also, a food truck would have to segregate their revenue by county and then pay each county separately. I suspect that most operators – if they are paying taxes at all – would only pay to the county that they are based and licensed out of either a) out of convenience or b) out of ignorance that they should pay tax in each county.

    Secondly, as a brick and mortar establishment it is easy for the authorities to audit me which the state has done twice.

    Third, if you had bothered to read the original post before hammering out your vitriol apparently there is a legal problem with affiliating with a brick and mortar establishment so there is no guarantee that the food trucks will be inspected by ANY authority because the authorities won’t even know where to find them.

    Fourth, those inspections are important. The whole goal of health inspections is to prevent people from getting sick. Once they get sick it is too late.

    Fifth, the idea that Chapel Hill is not cool enough to have food trucks is ridiculous. If anything, I would flip it on it’s head and say that Durham is so uncool that it needs to have food trucks. While I admire Durham’s ascension in the past decade, it’s rapid ascension is a stark reminder of how bad Durham was. “Yeah for Durham, we have restaurants downtown,” is ridiculous and when Durham has two James Beard Award winners within one block of each other maybe they can start to claim some kind of edge in the restaurant battle. And the fact that they need to have food trucks to service their population is a moot point that they don’t have enough services. The very fact that Chapel Hill compares favorably to Durham in services provided is amazing since Chapel Hill literally has less than 1/5 the population of Durham.

    Let’s get it straight. I am pro-Durham and I have nothing but respect for my colleagues in the food industry over there. But the idea that Durham is cooler or Chapel Hill is cooler is just stupid. They are both cool and the thing that Durham needs to do is to grow closer to Chapel Hill/Carrboro or it will get its lunch eaten by Raleigh which barely recognizes that either Durham or Chapel Hill/Carrboro exist.

  8. John Kramer

     /  October 20, 2011

    Wow, lots of FUD flying. Uh, so I guess if they are connected to a Durham restaurant, that doesn’t count? Must be an Orange County restaurant? Really? Durham really is a nasty place I guess- Good thing _no one_ in Orange County ever dines in Durham, it could be deadly after all. Just like _no one_ in Orange County ever shops in Durham, again the crime thing plus you all have to shop Orange first, right?

    Oh yeah- and these Food Truck guys are guilty of not paying taxes. Since you said so. Judge Judy would be proud of your knowledge in this matter.

    And yeah, Durham has really crummy restaurants, no James Beards- Magnolia Grill, Nana’s etc etc- really lousy food. Trust me on that. Please, Chapel Hill, stay home, don’t come to Durham. Nothing to do here, folks. And you might get shot at by black people.

    Oh -Scott- please tell Durham they need to be growing closer to Chapel Hill- send a note to the local Durham authorities, I am sure they will be glad you clued them in on that. But first I suggest you check with Chapel Hill to be sure it is okay that Durham gets close. After all, they aren’t cool, and there is so much crime here in the ghetto and absolutely none in Chapel Hill.

    Boy oh boy.

  9. Scott Maitland

     /  October 21, 2011

    John, do you even read posts before you react to them?

    1) The food trucks aren’t required to be connected to any brick and mortar establishment anywhere….Durham, Orange, Chatham…..anywhere. So I don’t understand your “Durham is a nasty place” line.

    2) With respect to taxes, Judge Judy knows that the burden is on the establishment to show it paid its taxes. A food truck that doesn’t even have a cash register will be hard pressed to keep records even if they wanted to.

    3) Who said Durham has crummy restaurants? Not me. In fact, I have nothing but praise for them as my post indicates.

    4) Your crime rant is such a non-sequitur I don’t even know how to reply.

    5) However, since most of your comments are non-sequiturs, why don’t you stop paying attention to Chapel Hill and Orange County since you live in Durham anyways. This blog would be better for it because, while diverse opinions are always welcomed, unthoughtful ones don’t advance this blog, our discussions or our world.

    Or are you envious? Yeah, that’s it isn’t it John…..you want to be like us don’t you? Admit it…….. 😉

  10. John Kramer

     /  October 21, 2011

    Classic response. I don’t like what you are saying, here is a reason why I think you should go away. How progressive!

    Well it was a couple of years ago when I checked, but WAAAY back then they were required to have a home restaurant they report to. If that is no longer the case, well, kiss my non sequitur.

  11. Scott Maitland

     /  October 23, 2011

    John, thanks for reminding me that ignorance is not just limited to the far left.

  12. Scott Maitland

     /  October 23, 2011

    I am sorry but I have to add to this comment.

    I enjoy hearing viewpoints diverse from my own. That is why I follow this blog. However, to see scathing personal attacks based on no facts whatsoever is just a waste of time. Most of your posts fall into that category.

    The fact that your last post embraces your ignorance and tells me to kiss your non-sequitur sums up my problem with your posts. You could care less about the facts, you just want to put people down. The irony is that you don’t recognize how foolish you look.

  13. John Kramer

     /  October 23, 2011

    So, Scott, what is the copay for your psychoanalysis?

  14. Scott Maitland

     /  October 25, 2011

    Apparently more than what you pay for your monthly subscription to wittyputdowns.com