A broader definition of food trucks, a food truck court and less restrictions on hours of operation are set to head to the Branson Board of Aldermen for approval Tuesday after the Branson Planning & Zoning Commission gave its recommendations.
Joel Hornickel, director of planning and development for the city, said the proposed code changes add clarity and improvements to the food truck code, which is a little more than a year old.
The first proposed change, Hornickel said, involves broadening the definition of a food truck to include units pulled by a vehicle.
“We do have folks in town who pull trailers behind vehicles,” Hornickel said. “We wanted to be very clear that those are allowed in food truck code.”
The definition of a food truck court is also among the proposed changes.
“Previously, a food truck court came into play when you had two or more,” Hornickel said, adding another change allowing three food trucks to operate on a parcel necessitated the change. “Because of allowing up to three food trucks operating, that had an effect on this so the change is to four.”
According to Hornickel, adding the words “a promotional event,” in the temporary use section will allow private business owners to have an easier time hosting food trucks as well.
“That would allow a private property owner to have the same right as the public property,” he said.
Hornickel also said staff recommended striking a section of code that gave food trucks in the city set hours of operation.
“It was the opinion the market should dictate when a food truck should be allowed to operate,” Hornickel said. “If a business on 76 can operate from whatever time to whatever time if they comply with the noise ordinance, why should we dictate what hours a food truck can operate?”
A section of text prohibiting food trucks from acting as a drive-thru business was also added to the code. According to Hornickel, operating a drive-thru at a primarily walk-up business presents a safety risk for customers.
“You want to provide a safe area for customers,” he said. “Having that drive-thru traffic while you’re promoting that walk-up business is just asking for conflict.”
The commission recommended food trucks still be prohibited from operating within 500 feet from a primary or secondary school’s property while it is in session. The commission had considered removing that prohibition.
Commission member Brenda Romine, who is also communications director for Branson School District, said the removal of the prohibition could cause problems for the school receiving federal funding.
“We receive federal funds, as all public schools do, for our meal program,” Romine said. “If, by some fluke, that’s not in place and a truck shows up and sells whatever and somebody catches it, we will lose our money for the federal food program from the government.”
The proposed code changes still need approval from the Branson Board of Aldermen before they would take effect.