Good thing January has five Mondays, otherwise council members wouldn’t have stumbled out of last week’s meeting until the break of dawn. Tonight’s meeting is a continuation of last week’s meeting that Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt called time on after midnight. Fortunately for all of us, he had committed to participate in the homeless census that mustered in the middle of the night, enabling the rest of us who have beds to sleep in them for several hours before getting up for work again.
The items left for tonight should engender much public input and council debate. The quickest item on the agenda is likely to be Roger Stancil’s financial update. What will really bring out the commenters will be the next three topics: whether to allow food trucks, how the Good Neighbor Plan for the men’s shelter on Homestead Road is coming, and the developer’s latest iteration of the Charterwood proposal.
Council should be prepared to vote tonight on the food truck issue, which has strong voices for and against. Some of the strongest voices opposed to food trucks – downtown restaurant owners – have the least amount of time to hang out in council chambers waiting for a turn to be heard. Here’s where Twitter might be useful: Town attorney Ralph Karpinos could invoke a Twitter break in which council members would turn on their smartphones and scroll through tweets from people whose jobs are the busiest during the evening hours that council is in session.
The town is proposing a get-tough strategy of making food truck regulations part of the Town Code, instead of the Land Use Management Ordinance, thus enabling swift enforcement and immediate citations and fines. The permits fees are still ridiculously low – $118 per vendor, plus a $50 privilege license, and $118 per property owner to allow the vendor to operate on private property. Fees that low make it economically feasible for me to sell my famous World Peace cookies out of the back of our Honda Civic. An additional $600 annual fee paid by vendors to cover the cost of monthly inspections by the town hopefully may discourage amateurs from entering the food-truck field.
And if restaurant proprietors can’t take off work to filibuster in council chambers tonight, and council approves the extra competition from food trucks, let’s demand council members will go restaurant-to-restaurant along Franklin Street to apologize – and order a meal.
– Nancy Oates