Boyne City food truck talks continue; fees, restrictions, locations discussed

vegetables web

Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

The discussion regarding the fate of food trucks in Boyne City continues.

The Boyne City Commission, during its Tuesday April 8 regular meeting, gave attendees an opportunity to opine on the matter following the release of a report in recent weeks that details how some locals feel about the issue.

“I am actually starting a food vending,” said Boyne City resident Shelley Bush. “It’s basically a mobile ice-cream parlor.”

Bush said she has researched the issue and feels she knows where people wouldn’t want food trucks to operate.

“The downtown area is very limited on our parking as it is—as well as a safety issue if we have food vendors down there,” she said. “If kids run out from the cars you can’t see with those vending carts there.”

Bush added, “I think we should have a certain area where we can park but still be part of the community downtown.”

She also spoke on multiple concerns some people have, including taxes and competition from transient food sellers.

“I know that some people are concerned about the tax issues. My feeling on the tax issues is whether you’re a business or a person you’re still going to have taxes … so I don’t know how people are looking at that as affecting them,” she said.

Bush said as far as the extra competition goes, the addition of food trucks will only draw more customers to Boyne’s downtown.

“My big thing is, whether we have a taco truck or a different kind of a truck or Kilwin’s or we have other businesses here—if we don’t have it, they’re going to go to Gaylord or Petoskey or wherever the food is,” she said.

Scott MacKenzie said he loves the concept of food trucks and what they could add to Boyne City’s current offerings … with one caveat.

“I am concerned about food trucks in the immediate downtown area in front of other restaurants,” he said. “I do agree with the general consensus I saw in the feedback of the surveys that their should be select places where they would be allowed.”

MacKenzie added, “What we do have that I didn’t see in any of the surveys is a newly remolded Old City Park that was designed and created additional parking space on the north side of Old City Park, extra space there. I think that would make a great venue for food trucks to kind of congregate in one specific spot.”

MacKenzie said he believes food vendors should be licensed with a fee to help offset the issue of taxes, and strongly recommended to join the local chamber of commerce.

Bush said the fees charged should be based on how often the food trucks operate within the city.

Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann said the chamber has not taken any official stance on the matter but he commended the city on its process in dealing with the issue thus far.

“Let’s try something for a year and we can see how it goes,” Baumann said. “And, if we need to tinker with it at the end of the year, that’s fine.”

Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she has gone back and forth with her thinking.

“My first initial reaction was ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “Then, the more I researched it and looked online and looked at other cities and communities around the country with food trucks—most of them are very attractive and very well-done and they do create an interesting atmosphere and vitality.”

Sansom acknowledged some local restaurant owners are concerned about food trucks taking business away.

Sansom said the average distance a truck had to be from a restaurant—according to her research—was 150 feet.

Sansom supported fees, limiting the number of trucks for at least the first year to see how it goes, and agreed that they should be encouraged to join the chamber of commerce.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he is still in the information gathering phase.

Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he did not have an opinion on the matter yet, but mentioned that the city would need to decide the size of trucks allowed and their rotation cycle.

Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said “generally speaking” he supports allowing food trucks to operate in the city.

Neidhamer said the issue of fees and operating locations, in addition to operating hours and days, need to be worked out.

Sansom asked whether the trucks would be allowed on public or private property.

“No determination has been made yet with regards to public or private property,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain, adding that city staff will work on the matter and offer the city commission a recommendation on the issue at a future meeting.

No action was taken on the matter.