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State of the City Well-Attended: Over 40 Lake Ozark residents, business owners, and other stakeholders attended  or tuned in via Zoom for the inaugural State of the City event held on January 23rd in the Council Chambers at Lake Ozark City Hall. Throughout the 45-minute presentation, both Mayor Newberry and City Administrator Fry highlighted progress made within the City over the course of 2023 and identified goals that will be accomplished throughout 2024 as well.  “We’ve talked quite a bit today about the state of the city as a business and some of the directions we are moving; I hope everyone can see that the state of the city in this regard is very positive.  That said, the City is here to do more than repair roads and be a good steward of tax dollars.  We’re here to be represent you and to be your government. This is not a City trying to deny people of information, their voice, or the chance to participate.  Whether those opinions support or are opposed to my beliefs or the opinions of the Board, we will never have the chance to do our job the right way until you do yours the same.”, said Mayor Newberry.   “I want you to have every opportunity to know this is your government, and know that that is now in place. As a resident who spent many years not having faith or trust in Lake Ozark’s present or future, I’m proud to say that we now have a city I believe in.” During the presentation, a review of new community investments, infrastructure projects, and the financial and policy direction of the City were discussed.   Those who were unable to attend the event can view presentation materials at this link. It is anticipated that the event will return annually in the future.

TEST TW WEATHER

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.