CEDARBURG — Though it’s only
been two years since the city of Cedarburg created its food truck
ordinance, it quickly became clear that, as written, the process was
a bit cumbersome for applicants.
“As originally drafted, the Plan Commission had (the) authority,”
explained City Attorney Mike Herbrand at Monday night’s Common
Council meeting. “As the ordinance was drafted, the applicant had to
go before the Plan Commission as part of the application process.”
This was in addition to review by staff and a background check by
Police Chief Tom Frank. Depending on when the application was
received, an applicant could be required to wait up to a month
before receiving an approval to operate in the city.
“It’s largely a clerical review and the Plan Commission has approved
the permits as long as the city staff recommended the approval,”
The change to give the city clerk’s office authority over food truck
applications was one of a handful of tweaks before the Common
Council. A second revision was to include an exemption for food
trucks sponsored by the city of Cedarburg for fundraising
activities, such as the Friends of Cedarburg Park and Recreation
hosting food trucks at the pool or parks.
“There are other exemptions already in place,” said Herbrand. “The
city does not require a permit during festivals, the Ozaukee County
Fair, farmers markets or Summer Sounds. Anyone bringing in a food
truck for something like a graduation party is also exempt; that
would be a situation where guests would not be paying for a cupcake
or a taco and the truck would be hired for private use.”
“I get that putting the application before the Plan Commission just
holds everything up,” said Common Council President Pat Thome. “The
city clerk’s office would approve the application, but would they
consult with the city planner at all?”
“If there’s an issue or some question, we probably would consult
with (City Planner) Jon (Censky) or take it to the Plan Commission,”
said City Administrator Christy Mertes.
But that really hasn’t been an issue since the ordinance was put in
place, which was adopted in April 2017 after more than a year of
discussion. Food trucks are permitted in Cedarburg on nonresidential
private property, with the permission of the property owner, but not
on public streets. Prior to this, food trucks operating in the city
did so under direct sellers’ licenses, though the city received
complaints that enforcement of the requirements – such as relocating
every 15 minutes – was not occurring. At the time, the city hoped to
outline a distinction between direct sellers and mobile vendors.
Since the ordinance was adopted, vendors are required to pay a $100
annual license fee, are limited to the number of appearances per
year – no more than 12 – and must have the locations approved in
advance. Additionally, mobile food vendors are not allowed to
operate independently on a city festival day.
“I’m just a little concerned that, with this change, all of a sudden
we have a ton of applications,” said Thome.
“There are also general operating restrictions on these licenses –
they can only be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. they can’t have
amplified music, they have to be on privately owned property,” said
Herbrand. “Thus far, there’s only been a handful of applicants; it’s
not a lot.”
The Common Council approved the changes on a 6-0 vote, with Council
member Rod Galbraith absent and the 1st District seat temporarily