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Food trucks get green light in Janesville

By Velena Jones, vjones@wisctv.com
Published On: Jun 10 2014 09:57:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2014 03:49:02 PM CDT

After two months of discussion Janseville city officials have approved an ordinance that will allow food trucks to operate in private and public areas. Other cities are considering a similar ordinance, but some restaurant owners are expressing concerns.

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Chad Measner has been confined to selling food from private parking lots since he opened his food truck last November.

Under a new ordinance passed by the Janesville City Council Monday, Measner will be able to take his business on the road to public and private areas.

"I think it's going to be huge. We are ready to start first and second shifts seven days a week," said Measner, owner of South Padre Streetfood.

Under the new rules, vendors will have to stay 200 feet away from restaurants and city events. Food trucks would operate between the hours of 8-3 a.m.

Licensed ice cream trucks will be allowed to sell items in neighborhoods from 8 a.m. to dusk, with a 9 p.m. curfew in other areas except downtown.

"It will be similar to other cities, bringing people downtown. Seeing what the downtown has to offer. So, I see it as just one more step in the process to reinvigorate our downtown," Janesville City Council President DuWayne Severson said.

Janesville is not the only city in Rock County making room for food trucks.

Milton city leaders have spent the last two years looking at ways to incorporate mobile vendors in the area.

"Milton is open for business, and we want to create an environment that does more good for the businesses and does no harm. So I think that is why we have been so cautious and deliberate in our approach developing this mobile vending policy," Milton City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said.

A draft ordinance proposed to the council this month would set regulations and a permit fee of $300 to operate for six months or $500 to operate year-round.

Vendors would only be allowed to operate in public parking lots and parks.

Even with the proposed restrictions, some Milton restaurant owners are concerned with the potential impact on their business.

Debra Hantke, owner of Deb's Squeeze Inn Family Diner, has established a solid customer base at her downtown restaurant since relocating five years ago. Hantke said even though her business attracts most of its customers in the morning for breakfast, she is still concerned.

"They are taking customers away from this town, and you need all the customers you can get," Hantke said.

Currently Milton does not have an ordinance prohibiting food trucks in the area. The council has asked the committee to revise its current draft to exclude produce sellers from having to pay the same fees as food truck vendors.

The city has not proposed a cap on the number of food trucks it would allow. But for Measner, he hopes his mobile kitchen will only draw more customers to the area.

"It's nice to see Janesville catching up with the times, and it could be an added attraction to bring more revenue for everybody else in this town too," he said.

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