June 25–Another busy night is on tap for Aiken City Council on Monday, with the proposed Public Safety building, food trucks and votes on two bond issues on the agenda.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. June 26 in Council chambers at the Aiken Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave. S.W.
City Council also will hold a work session before the regular council meeting.
That meeting starts at 5 p.m., with the council slated to discuss property maintenance issues as well as another update on elements of the City’s comprehensive plan.
The City of Aiken has been discussing mobile food vendors, commonly known as food trucks, at the planning commission level for the past several months.
After a public hearing this month, the Aiken Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of an ordinance easing the City’s food truck ordinance.
As it stands, food trucks aren’t allowed on public streets within the City limits except during special events. They are permitted on private property, but must possess a business license.
The planning commission proposal eases those restrictions, allowing food trucks on City streets, but also creating a 100-foot buffer zone with “brick-and-mortar” competing businesses. Hours of operation also would be restricted.
In a memo to City Council, Aiken Planning Commission Chairwoman Liz Stewart said the nationwide market for food trucks is growing.
Citing the National League of Cities, Stewart’s memo said the food truck industry accounts for more than $650 million in sales. Food truck revenue is projected to quadruple the revenue stream over the next five years.
“The National League of Cities also acknowledges that mobile food vending serves as a low-barrier entry into the restaurant industry, which can act as a business incubator model for entrepreneurship,” the memo states. “Likewise, mobile food vending is increasing among existing brick and mortar restaurants for testing other trade areas and promoting their existing eating establishment(s).”
The proposed food truck ordinance prohibits alcohol sales, addressing an issue that arose last month with a Charleston County food truck vendor.
A May 7 story in the Post and Courier, sister paper of the Aiken Standard, reported about a mobile food vendor called “Booze Pops,” a Folly Beach food truck which sold frozen alcoholic beverages, taking advantage of a loophole in state law.
The proposed Aiken food truck ordinance would not allow frozen alcoholic treats of any kind.
Two readings of the food truck ordinance are required before it takes effect.
In other business, the City is scheduled to hold second reading on an installment purchase agreement to purchase the old Food Lion building on Beaufort Street, which will become the new Aiken Public Safety headquarters.
By relocating its headquarters, Public Safety will increase its building space from 22,000 to nearly 40,000 square feet. It also concentrates a greater Public Safety presence in an area with higher crime.
There also are two agenda items relating to second reading on ordinances relating to the issuance of bonds for water and sewer and stormwater services to address the City’s aging infrastructure.
Neither measure commits the City to borrowing at this time. According to council documents, staff plan to come back to City Council to approve a separate ordinance authorizing specific bond amounts.
The stormwater bond issue request would be for $2.5 million, and the water and sewer request would be for $4.05 million.
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