UPPER MARLBORO – Members of the Prince George’s County Council expressed concerns about the operating hours and types of vendors for potential food trucks in the county at a recent committee meeting, but they still support getting the bill passed. The proposed bill would provide limited exemptions to county licensing and health requirements for food […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Members of the Prince George’s County Council expressed concerns about the operating hours and types of vendors for potential food trucks in the county at a recent committee meeting, but they still support getting the bill passed.
The proposed bill would provide limited exemptions to county licensing and health requirements for food truck hubs to encourage economic development, increase public access to healthy food options, minimize or eliminate “food deserts” in underserved areas of the county, and promote innovative entrepreneurship and revitalization.
Vendors will be required to have a permit after submitting an application to the designated coordinator, a letter of support, permission from the property owner, and be available to operate during the allowed hours of operation.
The bill also states that permits are reserved for locations near metro stations at Naylor Road, Suitland, Branch Avenue, and New Carrollton to ensure that food truck hubs occur around the county.
The bill comes at a time when food trucks are receiving greater popularity in the country, including Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
Councilmember Dannielle Glaros said food trucks would not be allowed to stay overnight in Hub Zones nor will they be allowed to park on residential property outside of the operation hours.
“The operation hours of the hub zone will commence between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.,” she said.
Councilmember Deni Taveras noted past struggles in Prince George’s County with the sale of illegal substances and alcohol out of food trucks, as well as the cleanup after trucks leave the hub zones. She also voiced concerns over the future probability because “enforceability will be difficult.”
“We need someone put in place as coordinator, or one who makes sure the trucks operate within the parameters of the regulations,” Taveras said.
Councilmember Obie Patterson said the county’s first experience with food trucks years ago “was horrible and devastating.”
“You could smell what the food trucks left behind and those areas were infested with rodents afterwards,” Patterson said.
The council also listened to concerns of Prince George’s County residents in regards to making the legislative bill stronger.
Many of those who spoke expressed their dismay at the legislation for having too many limitations.
Jennifer Funn, program coordinator of Branch Ave In Bloom, a farmers market through the Maryland Small Business Development Center, said allowing food trucks will allow her market to make more fresh produce available to residents.
“It’s a great opportunity for residents to have healthier food vendor options in our county,” Funn said. “Bringing food truck hub zones to Prince George’s County will revitalize our county’s struggling communities.”
Tonia Wellons, founder and managing director of Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, agreed that food trucks need regulations but asked that the council allow the street vendors to meet consumer demand.
Wellons believes the bill is “forward leaning,” but the council needs to be wary of overregulation.
“Too many regulations will cause economic failure,” said Wellons.
Wellons said people who live in the county should be able to vend where they live.
“For me the nearest restaurant is seven miles away but the nearest food truck is up the street at the park. I would love to be able to walk to the park with my kids and get food that is closer to my home,” said Wellons.
The committee did not vote on the bill.