Tom Bakersmith, a member of the Maplewood Planning and Zoning Commission, wants to see food trucks parked in Maplewood. He said the trucks would enhance the city’s eclectic culture.
Food trucks, like Sarah's Cake Shop, are mobile food destinations. Operators park trucks at different locations and serve customers from a window. Some even cook food from their mobile kitchens. (Learn more from this story on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website.)
“They’re wildly popular in many cities. In the West Coast, they’re all over,” said Bakersmith during a commission meeting on Monday night. And Bakersmith wants Maplewood to try just one.
But you can’t limit free enterprise to just one vendor if others are interested, City Manager Marty Corcoran said. So the commission has asked Cocoran to learn how other cities handle food trucks operations and develop a proposal for the commission.
Right now, food trucks are banned within Maplewood city limits.
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That’s not to say commission members didn’t discuss food trucks. They did, and cited specific concerns: where to allow food trucks to operate, how to minimize their impact on existing restaurants and how to collect taxes.
“You could restrict them to certain areas, if you so desire. Do it by street addresses, zoning district, or by whatever method you so choose,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran explained that Maplewood’s share of taxes would be determined by random audits, with the food truck vendor making its tax contributions to the state, which would then return the city’s portion.
Protecting existing businesses was a concern for commission member Jackie Robb. “We want to keep our brick and mortar restaurants,” she said.
Bakersmith thought restricting the trucks’ locations to 500 feet from an existing food-service business would help.
In essence, that would prevent the trucks from parking on the city’s restaurant-laden strip in the 7200 and 7300 blocks of Manchester Road. Corcoran would prefer that food trucks be banned completely from Manchester Road to preserve valuable on-street parking for business-goers.
Bakersmith remained steadfast in his support for food trucks.
“I think we should try it,” Bakersmith said. “If it turns out to be a threat to existing businesses, obstructs traffic, or in any way is against public interest, that’s the end of this thing. We rescind the ordinance and let existing licenses expire.”
So far only one person has approached the city about the possibility of operating a food truck in Maplewood, and according to Corcoran, his business is not yet operational.
Maplewood Montessori to relocate to single-family home
Other business was also conducted at Monday's night meeting.
Clara Borders, the owner and operator of Maplewood Montessori, received the commission’s approval to operate her day care center in a single-dwelling home at 2510 Bellevue Avenue - with a stipulation. She cannot structurally alter the home that would prevent it from being used a single dwelling in the future.
Commission members were concerned about that.
Borders will rent the property, which is located in a medium-density zoned neighborhood. She will be able to accommodate up to 12 students at the new location.
Presently, Borders operates the business out of her residence at 7269 Zephyr Place. She has eight children attending the daycare. Most of them live in Maplewood.