published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Chattanooga City Council advances food truck policy


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Keith Roscha orders a turkey sandwich from Lindsey Rieman from Famous Nater's World Famous during an event at the Crash Pad behind Niedlov's. Food trucks, which have full service kitchens, are a growing trend.
    Photo by Jenna Walker.
    enlarge photo

The Chattanooga City Council voted 9-0 on first reading to approve an ordinance making food trucks and trailers permanent fixtures on downtown city streets.

But not without some struggles that still need to be resolved.

"We don't want to have what's called 'nesting,'" said Steve Leach, administrator of the Department of Public Works.

At issue were trailers that can be dropped and placed anywhere for extended periods.

The proposed ordinance allows food trucks to operate as they have in the past. The council had authorized a pilot program that was to sunset at the end of the year.

Leach said there had been no problems with the food trucks. But the ordinance also proposed that food trailers remain attached to the vehicles unless a special event is being held.

Richard Hutsell, the city's code inspector, said there have been several issues in the past where food trucks have been placed in spots around the downtown and left.

"I've been out on weekends myself to deal with trailers in parking lots," he said.

But those who abide by the law said they wanted to make sure they don't get trapped between laws that wouldn't allow them to sell their food.

Chris Thomas, executive director of the Chattanooga Market, voiced concerns about whether the vendors at his establishment would have to stay hitched to trucks. He said that could lead to safety problems in the confined area.

Leach told food vendors he would have discussions with them before the final vote next week.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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