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Notice Regarding Recent Resignations: At the end of an executive session held at the October 25, 2022 City of Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen meeting, it was announced that letters of resignation had been accepted from both Municipal Judge Richelle Christensen and City Administrator David Mitchem.   Christensen’s resignation, effective December 31, was given in anticipation of her uncontested election to serve as the Camden County Prosecutor.  The letter was given in advance of this date so that a suitable replacement as municipal judge could be nominated and have ample time to prepare for the job.  It is anticipated that a nominee will be provided at the November 8 Board of Aldermen meeting, with work to begin for the new judge on January 1, 2023.   Administrator Mitchem had presented the Board of Aldermen with his letter of resignation, effective November 14, on October 12, with the Board formalizing the action at this meeting.  His notice references several successful projects from his year in the office, including identification of new revenue streams for the city, making amendments to building height restrictions to allow for development at an increased scale, and performing an assessment of employee recruitment and retention strategies.  He also cited his appreciation for the Board’s commitment to making the city more attractive for outside investment, while praising the professional staff’s skills and desire to be good public servants.  A successor to the position is expected to be named prior to Mitchem’s final day.   Of both Christensen and Mitchem’s announcements, Mayor Dennis Newberry stated “their time with the city, while different in length and workload, have transformed the way we deliver justice and do our key functions as a government.  Our board has appreciated working with both of them, and wishes them both the best in their next chapters while we welcome new team members to those roles.”


P&Z to consider ordinance on food trucks

Food trucks in Lake Ozark.

Currently, they are prohibited by ordinance. But growing interest from both the public and food truck vendors is keeping the issue on the front burner for city officials.

The Lake Ozark Planning & Zoning Commission spent about 45 minutes during its regular monthly meeting May 5 hearing from proponents of food trucks within the city and discussing the ramifications at length. No one spoke in opposition.

The issue was raised at the commission’s April meeting after the city received several inquiries from potential vendors. Social media was robust with conversation after the Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals car show during which many visitors and residents complained they could not find a place to eat because of the crowds. The social media solution is food trucks.

One thing P&Z members made clear at their meeting was that food trucks would not be allowed within C-1 (commercial) districts – The Strip. Their intent is to protect existing restaurants from mobile food vendors that don’t have the same type of overhead that brick and mortar businesses do, and that don’t have the vested interest in the city’s long-standing business district. It’s feared that food trucks located on The Strip could compete with existing businesses, the members agreed. 

However, the door was left open to seek an amicable solution so residents and visitors have access to food trucks. After hearing input from proponents of food trucks and research by city staff, the board asked Community Development Director Harrison Fry and City Attorney Christopher Rohrer to craft an ordinance that would address the issue. 

The P&Z would then make a recommendation to the board of aldermen which would make the final decision.

Chairman Margaret Davis reiterated that the board is not in favor of taking away revenue from established brick and mortar businesses. There is also the issue of inadequate parking with food trucks possibly taking up valuable parking spaces.

“The discussion this time is the possibility of putting them someplace else,” she said.

“The simplest solution is that they not be allowed in a C-1 district, which is considered to be The Strip,” Fry noted. “As far as the parking issue, many communities don’t allow them on public spaces. But the city couild have mechanisms in place to allow them on private property during certain circumstances.”

Lake Ozark apparently is the only lake-area community that bans food trucks, according to one of the unidentified supporters of food trucks.

“There are several food trucks that are locally owned businesses that can’t operate in Lake Ozark. They can locate in Camdenton, Osage Beach and Jeff City but cannot operate in Lake Ozark,” he said.  

It was noted that food truck permit fees range from $25 to $500 among those communities. Lake Ozark’s business license is $50.

Another proponent explained that he carries food liability and vehicle insurance, has property owner permission or leases property, is state certified and licensed, is inspected by Camden, Miller and Cole county health departments, pays sales tax, follows the same rules as brick-and-mortar businesses but does not have same overhead.

“My concern is that I’m not able to go out and make a living in Lake Ozark where I live,” he commented. “I’m president of the Lions Club (on Fish Haven) but can’t set up and do anything for the club because it’s residential even though the club owns all of the property.”

One food truck owner responded to the board concern that food trucks might cause a restaurant to fail. 

“If that happens, they were going to fail already. It wasn’t the food trucks that did it,” he said. “We have an entirely different business model. With us, people say, ‘hey, there’s a food truck’ and buy a hot dog. We’re mostly a convenience, not usually a destination. Our business model is not to compete with the brick-and-mortar businesses.”

The discussion is expected to continue at the next P&Z meeting June 2.