ROCKLAND, Maine ― Rockland city councilors are considering an ordinance amendment that would make the path to approval for food trucks more straightforward.
The existing ordinance addresses more permanent-style take out establishments, like food trailers and wagons, but doesn’t mention food trucks. That’s made the approval process for mobile food establishments unclear.
City councilors are taking an initial vote next week to amend the ordinance and add the word “vehicle” to what the city considers a food wagon. Code officials are hopeful that updating the ordinance will better prepare the city for when food trucks apply to operate in Rockland.
If the amendment is approved, food trucks “are now going to be routed through a specific process for approval, whereas there was just a question mark previously,” Rockland Code Enforcement Officer Adam Ackor said. “It’s a clarifying edit.”
The proposed ordinance amendment will need to get an initial and final approval from council in order to go into effect. But if it is ultimately approved, food trucks will follow the same approval process as food wagons.
In Rockland, if someone wants to operate a food wagon on public or private property, they must submit an application to the planning board, which conducts a site review. The wagon must also pass a health and safety inspection conducted by city code and fire officials to obtain a victualler’s license, which is needed to sell food within the city.
Currently, Rockland has three approved eateries under the food wagons ordinance. All are food trailers that operate in fixed locations.
The section of city code where the parameters for food wagons and container restaurants are laid out was written around 2015, and updated as recently as 2018. However, it is unclear why food trucks have not been addressed previously, Ackor said.
In recent years, several businesses wanting to operate food trucks have approached the city for approval. Since food trucks are not explicitly mentioned in Rockland’s code, the city has worked individually with business owners to create an approval process based on each operation’s specific circumstances.
“It was a bit of a gray area,” Ackor said.
Given the rise in popularity of food trucks in recent years, Ackor feels it’s a good time to amend city code to more explicitly state that they are allowed in Rockland.
“I think it’s good to put in those clarifications and make the path to approval as simple and straightforward as we possibly can,” Ackor said.