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Nederland lays out rules for food trucks; Public hearing scheduled over proposal

NEDERLAND — City leaders are discussing a path to allow food trucks to operate in Nederland.

Only nonprofit organizations are currently allowed to operate as mobile vendors and only in commercial and industrial districts for no more than 14 consecutive days and no more than 30 full days per year.

Under a proposed 12-month pilot program starting Jan. 1, temporary food truck permits would be made available for events organized and permitted by a business establishment for promotion and advertisement in which the setup is completely on the establishment’s private property.

Temporary permits would be available no more than 12 times during the calendar year and no more than once a month and for a three-day period.

The permit fee would be $50.

A joint public hearing of the Nederland City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled Dec. 9, with the Planning and Zoning Commission to follow and vote on a recommendation for the City Council.

A final vote to enact or deny the proposed food truck vendor program is scheduled for Dec. 16.

City Council members did not provide any public opinion on the food truck proposal, meeting for 20 minutes behind closed doors Monday in executive session before reconvening in open session and unanimously initiating the public hearing schedule.

There are numerous proposed restrictions for the Nederland food truck pilot program.

Permits would not be issued during the week of the Nederland Heritage Festival and would only be issued to applicants with a brick-and-mortar business in Nederland or with a residential home with a homestead exemption in Nederland.

Documentation must be submitted confirming a business’ permission for the food truck to be on their property.

A Jefferson County Health Department permit is required, and food trucks and trailers are only allowed in commercial and industrial zoning districts.

They cannot park overnight.

Food trucks cannot set up shop within 50 feet of a residence or within 100 feet of the primary entrance of an operating restaurant without written permission from the restaurant.

They must be located within 100 feet of a public restroom.

City Manager Christopher Duque said the issue of creating opportunities for profit-based food trucks came to light in August via a request from Joe Oates, owner of Boss Burger.

According to Duque, outside of the occasional call or inquiry, Oates’ request represented the first engaged attempt to amend Nederland ordinance.

“What we have been doing in the past several months is a good amount of research and looking into the actual logistics of how this would work and how it would work with the county as far as the health department,” Duque said. “How are other cities managing this? That has taken quite a bit of time.”

An extended and thorough review of possibly changing Nederland ordinance for a new style of business is not new for local residents or community leaders.

The Nederland City Council recently denied a request from a Beaumont-based private poker club to operate a similar establishment in Nederland.

That request was denied, in part, due to its proximity to neighborhood homes.

At the time, local leaders suggested the poker club consider looking at a location away from local homes in more commercial districts.

Duque told The Port Arthur News that Nederland building officials have not been contacted about a new poker club location.