Food truck ordinance passes 1st of 2 votes, new regulations near

City Council on first reading approved a food truck ordinance Thursday night, giving vendors a set of regulations to follow or face enforcement from the codes officers.

No food vendors attended the meeting, apparently aware through prior economic revitalization committee meetings of the positive recommendation forwarded to the full council.

The main rules cover issues such as a $250-per-year permit, a requirement that a truck must be 75 feet away from the outside of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, payment of city mercantile tax and securing a $1 million insurance liability policy, according to Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.

“It won’t hurt the existing restaurants,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, who said while dining recently at a restaurant it was filled to capacity while food truck operators were on the street nearby.

The trucks have been operating in the city without any regulations for about two years.

Earlier in the year, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce suggested the distance the trucks be from restaurants should be 100 feet.

Gerardi said that would have caused hardship for many of the vendors.

“I think the distance is a compromise,” he said.

The trucks may operate in any zoned district in the city with exception to residential areas, Gerardi said.

The trucks can park on streets in the Central Business District, light and heavy manufacturing zones and commercial zones.

The truck owners must continue to apply for special events permits during activities such as July 4 and Williamsport Welcomes the World, Gerardi said.

The ordinance must go through a second vote before it is enacted. The vote at the meeting was 6-0, with Council President Jonathan Williamson absent.