Cedarburg OKs food trucks
Ordinance limits locations, creates fee

By Alison Henderson - News Graphic Staff

April 20, 2017

The Blue Cow Creperie was a regular feature of the Cedarburg Farmers Market when the event was held in the Cultural Center parking lot.
Submitted photo

CEDARBURG ó After almost a year of deliberation, the Common Council determined Tuesday that mobile vendors, namely food trucks, will be allowed in at least some parts of the city.

The council approved, 43, an ordinance permitting mobile vendors on nonresidential private property, with the permission of the property owner, but prohibiting them from public streets. The ordinance will be effective upon posting.

Up to this point, the few food trucks that operate in Cedarburg have done so under direct sellers licenses, though many noted the lax enforcement of its requirements, such as relocating every 15 minutes.

ďThe current ordinance isnít bad,Ē resident Stephen Leonard said to the council. ďI think it could work if it was just enforced.Ē

ďThatís why weíre here tonight,Ē City Attorney Michael Herbrand said, to come up with a solution and draw a clear line in the sand between direct sellers and mobile vendors. Herbrand has been working with the council to draft the new ordinance.

The conversation was spurred last May by recommendations from the Economic Development Board to prohibit mobile vendors on public property, but the issue has been volleyed between committees and their respective members as they grappled to balance an interest in more variety with the prosperity of existing brick and mortars.

Many of these establishments, especially restaurants in the downtown area, have said these mobile vendors have a direct effect on their business and have an unfair advantage. They said this is because vendors donít have to abide by the strict regulations that exist in the historic district and can choose their hours; food truck owners asserted that they have their own set of fees and inspections to adhere to.

Chris Morton of Mortonís WisconsInn at N56 W6339 Center St. said he already experiences a direct impact when vendors come in for special events.

ďIíve been making adjustments since music in the park started. It has a direct effect on business especially when Iím surrounded by them. Iím not against having (mobile vendors) at certain special events, I just donít want to see the proliferation of them,Ē he said.

Representatives from the festivals group and the cityís parks and recreation department echoed those concerns, stating much of their operations rely on revenue from food sales, which would be impacted by competing sellers.

Fifth District Alderman Mitch Regenfuss, who lobbied for placing a limit on the number of permits, said the council wants to be mindful of protecting Cedarburg businesses, but that there is a clear demand for food trucks. Food truck proponents have also argued that having them would draw more people and business into the city.

With the new ordinance, vendors will be required to pay a $100 annual license fee, which must be based on the cost of issuing a permit. Trucks will be allowed during festivals, but only within the festival footprint under the control of the Festivals of Cedarburg organization. This would also account for vendors working with Summer Sounds and farmers markets.

Council members Pat Thome and Jack Arnett, who were largely in favor of allowing mobile vendors, said they thought much of the ordinance would be self-regulating.

The council voted 4-3 in favor of the final ordinance, with aldermen John Czarnecki, Dick Dieffenbach and Rick Verhaalen opposed.

Email: ahenderson@conleynet.com