Boyne City officials studying idea of allowing food trucks in town

food trukSome Boyne City officials are considering whether food trucks should be allowed to operate within the Boyne City limits.

 According to a Dec. 6 memo from Boyne City Assistant Planner Annie Doyle and Boyne City Main Street Manager Hugh Conklin, there has been some interest in the possibility of opening Boyne City up to mobile refreshment businesses.

“To date, the planning department has had five inquiries from individuals interested in operating food trucks in Boyne City during the spring and summer of 2014,” they stated in the memo. “Currently, the city does not have a policy or set of requirements specifically regulating this type of business.”

The issue has been investigated at the request of the Boyne City Main Street Board by Conklin and Doyle.

“We have researched what other Northern Michigan cities are doing in regards to food trucks and discovered that each community is unique in their approach, tailoring each to their community,” they stated.

According to the memo, stakeholder perspectives, economic environment, demographics, geography and communications methods are some of the characteristics that have resulted in very different regulations.

Examples include the following:

Traverse City allows food trucks in designated areas, charges a fee and limits the number of permits it gives out each year.

Charlevoix allows food trucks in any private parking lot in areas zoned for restaurants, charges no fee and has no permit process.

Petoskey has kept existing regulations that do not allow food trucks to operate.

Harbor Springs is in the process of researching its options.

“This diversity in approach is also what we have found in other communities throughout the state and country,” they stated.

According to the memo, there are numerous financial impacts and other variables that could be investigated further to ensure an informed decision is made on the matter.

“For example, what are the financial impacts of food trucks? Do they bolster surrounding businesses by drawing larger crowds or do they detract from the already existing local economy? Do they foster local entrepreneurs and the establishment of future brick and mortar businesses?” they state in the memo. “How do they contribute to the aesthetic sense-of-place in a downtown area? What are the pitfalls that we need to be aware of? What are the best practices? What should the role of the city be in the regulation process?”
This issue was on the agenda for the Tuesday Dec. 10 Boyne City Commission meeting but was removed in order to allow time for more research to be done on the issue.

“In determining a course of action for our community, it seems there are many variables that still need to be identified and assessed in order to make a more informed decision,” it was stated in the memo. “Aside from our current requests, this type of business is growing in popularity; not only in Northern Michigan but around the country, and it is possible we will have more requests in the future.”