The door to allowing food trucks in the City of Lake Ozark was left open a crack by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission during its regular monthly meeting April 7.
After a brief discussion, the P&Z requested more information before making a recommendation to the board of aldermen. The issue was brought before the group after city officials received several requests in the last few weeks from vendors wanting to take advantage of the throngs of potential customers during special events and weekends in the city.
Currently, food trucks are not allowed without the approval of the board of aldermen, the event applicant and the property owner where the truck would be located.
“These transactions cannot occur on public-controlled spaces such as sidewalks, streets and rights of way without having a special use permit from the board of aldermen,” Assistant City Administrator and Community Development Director Harrison Fry explained. “They currently are not allowed in the city based on current city code.”
While food trucks would be a new type of business to the community and offer variety, Fry noted, they also would, in effect, compete with existing businesses potentially at a lower level of investment.
Mayor Gerry Murawski focused on the potential conflict with businesses, especially those on The Strip.
“I’ve been asked this for five years now and my opinion has been rock solid. I believe businesses invest a lot of money through their lease or purchase and to have food trucks at least on The Strip is counterproductive,” the mayor offered. “If we did something below the dam for special events, for instance, we might want to be able to do that but that’s about the only option. We have such a small town and all the food truck people that I’ve talked to always want to set up on The Strip at an event and I think that would be absolutely counterproductive to our businesses and their investment.”
P&Z Chairman Margaret Davis pointed out that food trucks in The Strip area would also take away valuable parking spaces that are at a premium.
In answer to a question by P&Z member Mike Otten regarding food trucks on private property, Fry reiterated that permission would be required from the property owner, the event applicant and the board of aldermen.
Committee members wondered if food trucks could potentially be permitted away from The Strip such as in Eagle’s Landing.
“I do think there are times and places that might be appropriate for them, but putting them down on The Strip is not appropriate,” committee member Ethan Schackelford said. “I do think we should look at the situation and options and see if there might be a time and place to locate them.
The complexities of collecting sales tax from venders who might operate in several communities also was raised as a possible challenge.
The board is expected to revisit the issue at its next regular meeting May 5. In the meantime, city staff will be researching best practices on the issue from other communities.