Public forum on food trucks in Chapel Hill


Monday, February 28, 2011 - 7:00pm


Council Chamber of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill

Via Town of Chapel Hill e-mail:

Food Trucks in Chapel Hill?
Posted Date: 
Food truck
The Town Council will hold a public forum on the issue of food trucks in Chapel Hill at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, in the Council Chamber of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
The Town received a citizen's petition to consider permitting and regulating food trucks. The Council invites input into the questions of whether food trucks should be allowed to operate on private property in town and under what restrictions. 
Town zoning regulations are silent on food trucks on private property. Under state regulations, a food truck must operate in conjunction with a permitted restaurant for daily cleaning and servicing, and for solid and liquid waste disposal. 

Residents with an interest in this topic are encouraged to attend the Council meeting of Feb. 28. If you are unable to attend the meeting, ideas and comments about this issue may be sent to Kendal Brown, Town of Chapel Hill planner, at or 919-968-2728. 


Joe Schwartz tweeted that he'll be covering this hearing for The Independent. Will anyone be attending?I'm still not clear on what the legislative problem is, but I don't know anyone who doesn't love food trucks. 

I went. About a dozen folks signed up to speak, including myself. First was a six-minute argument from the owner of West End Wine Bar on why food trucks should not be allowed to operate in Chapel Hill. The main argument was that food trucks constitute unfair competition for established restaurants. The head of the Chamber also spoke out with reservations about allowing food trucks based on surveys of restaurant owners who are Chamber members. The remainder of speakers, including at least five mobile food business onwers, spoke out in favor of the Council amending current regulations to make it easier for food trucks to operate in Chapel Hill. Here's a list of some pros and cons brought up by the speakers:Pro:encourages entrepreneurial spiritmore good food for more peoplebrings life back to the streetallows chefs to experimentlower cost way of trying out a food business ideacan be first step to a successful restaurantfood trucks can focus on one thing and do it wellother hip cities have them Con:health and sanitation concernsout-of-town trucks will invadetrucks can park near a restaurant and steal businesstrucks will take up valuable parking spacestrucks can look trashyout-of-town trucks' sales tax won't go to Chapel Hillmany restaurants are already struggling to stay in businesstrucks can evade regulations easier by being mobile  Seth Elliott  

I'm not a lawyer, but I thought sales tax was pretty clear -- if you are physically conducting business in a location, you pay sales tax there.  When my wife delivers food to another location (even though we make it in Chapel Hill), I file her sales tax in that other county (because the sale took place there). 

From the Town of Chapel Hill's email about last night:

Public Forum: Food Trucks (Mobile Food Units): The Council received public input both in favor
and against allowing food trucks in Chapel Hill. The Land Use Management
Ordinance provisions are generally silent on temporary mobile food sales. The
Council expressed an interest in hearing about how other cities regulate food
trucks and guideline options. Business leaders from the Chamber of Commerce and
Downtown Partnership said they are surveying businesses for their perspectives
on the question. Rare for a community of its size, Chapel Hill has an unusually
high number of restaurants known for an astounding variety and quality of
cuisine. The proposal will be discussed again at a future Council meeting.  


These are tough economic times. We should be encouraging small, creative enterprises in order to help people make a living.


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