Food truck discussion continues
Waupaca Common Council reviews proposed ordinance
By Angie Landsverk
A proposed food truck ordinance goes before the Waupaca Common Council for a third time next month.
A public hearing and first reading of the ordinance are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, July 7.
“We have food trucks already in town. We want to be in compliance. Right now we have nothing,” Mayor Brian Smith said when the council met on June 16.
That was the second time a proposed ordinance was on the agenda for a first reading.
There was again discussion about the distance food trucks should be from licensed restaurants, as well as from city-operated food stands and concessions in Waupaca parks.
That was also the case when the initial proposal went before the council in March.
After last week’s discussion, the council’s consensus was to make the distance requirement 150 feet.
That compares to the 100 yards (300 feet) that had been proposed on June 16.
Nicole Zellmer told the council the 100-yards requirement would push food trucks out of Waupaca.
She is a city resident and owner of Grilligan’s.
Zellmer approached the city last year with the idea of having a weekly food truck rally at South Park.
It took place part of last summer, and the city then decided to develop an ordinance to regulate food trucks.
Grilligan’s and other food trucks have also parked on the premises of some Waupaca businesses.
Ordinance could push out food trucks
Zellmer told the council she worked hard to find businesses where Grilligan’s could be parked.
Parking the food truck at Waypoint Financial and H.H. Hinder Brewing Company was successful, she said.
This year, Hansen’s Furniture and Appliance and Faulks Brothers Construction were added.
The 100-yard rule would not allow the food truck to park at any of those businesses, Zellmer said.
She said it would prevent food trucks from parking anywhere downtown and in busy areas.
Zellmer also said the alderperson who previously expressed concerns about the distance requirement is biased, because he owns a restaurant in Waupaca.
Ald. Paul Mayou said Zellmer was referring to him.
He owns Dairy Queen.
Mayou said he was speaking on behalf of the restaurants located near Waypoint Financial, as he did not believe Dairy Queen was within the distance requirement.
“A food truck and a brick and mortar restaurant are two different entities,” he said.
Mayou said he pays between $12,000 and $13,000 annually in property taxes for Dairy Queen.
He asked if any fee is paid to Waypoint Financial or H.H. Hinder Brewing Company when a food truck parks there.
City Administrator Aaron Jenson said the idea with the distance requirement was not to discourage food trucks, but to provide accountability and address equity issues with licensed restaurants.
He also noted the proposal would allow a food truck to operate within 150 feet of a licensed restaurant, during its kitchen hours, with the restaurant owner’s written permission.
“We have lots of eateries in downtown,” said Ald. Scott Purchatzke. “I see her (Zellmer’s) point. You’re effectively eliminating them from being downtown.”
Ald. Mary Phair said there are restaurants located next to each other downtown.
They are open different hours and have different menus and different clientele, she said.
Distance requirements amended
The 150-feet distance requirement from licensed restaurants was in the original draft that went before the council on March 3.
Under that proposal, the distance requirement was 500 feet in the parks and 150 feet from licensed restaurants.
Council members wanted a uniform distance requirement for the parks and licensed restaurants, and agreed on 100 yards.
That draft was scheduled to have its second reading on March 17.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Safer at Home Order, which was in place until around mid-May, the city waited to bring the proposed ordinance back for its second reading.
After the council’s June 16 discussion to make the distance requirement 150 feet for the parks and licensed restaurants, City Attorney Tom Hart said another first reading would be required.
With that now set for July 7, this means the proposed ordinance is scheduled for its second reading on July 21.