ANDOVER — Food trucks in town could soon come under new rules for where and how they operate if a new bylaw is approved.
The Planning Board will seek Annual Town Meeting approval this spring for a new food truck license and regulation process that would be governed by the Board of Selectmen.
The article was created because the town has “had more interest in mobile food vendors, so we wanted to make sure they’re (licensed) in an orderly fashion, as we do with any building restaurants,” Town Planner Jacki Byerly said.
If approved, the bylaw would give selectmen “the ability to grant a license to mobile food vendors, set a fee for that license and establish regulations,” Byerly said. The terms of those regulations would be up to the selectmen to set, she said.
A similar bylaw was approved last year by North Andover’s Town Meeting and a committee formed to draft the new regulations is expected to make a presentation to the Board of Selectmen there later this month.
Currently, food trucks in Andover must obtain a license to operate from the Board of Health. That approval would remain in place separate from the new bylaw, according to Health Director Tom Carbone.
“We do a plan review. We look to make sure they comply with the applicable codes,” Carbone said. “They’re required to have a couple agreements in place. They have to start their day and end their day at a licensed facility that meets certain requirements.”
The fresh set of regulations would address whether “the public good is served” by the business, the proposal reads. The regulation focuses on whether “the traveling public will be inconvenienced in its use of the public ways and sidewalks, whether the business has sufficient parking and whether the public safety is protected,” it says.
Selectmen would set an annual fee for the licenses, issue them yearly on Jan. 2 and establish fines for violations, not to exceed $300, according to the Town Meeting article. Existing food trucks would have 90 days to obtain their license.
Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli wasn’t aware of the article when asked and said he wanted to understand its motivation before discussing it in detail.
“I’d want to also understand what other towns are doing, what has been established,” Vispoli said. “The key would be to make sure whatever we’re doing is something that’s not going to burden new businesses forming, but something that has a type of balance and reason for doing it.”
In North Andover, an influx of food trucks to town led officials to pursue regulations, Curt Bellavance, the town’s director of community development, said.
“We started having more food vendors coming to town. At the same time, the state was changing its requirements regarding ice cream trucks,” Bellavance said. “It just seemed to be a popular theme at the time. It’s something that the Board of Selectmen wanted to have something in place that helped manage the situation.”
Bellavance said North Andover’s regulations will aim to make sure food trucks use one space at a time, follow parking regulations, have insurance, don’t have signs out and manage their own trash.
Andover’s regulations and how they would be enforced would be entirely up to the Board of Selectmen, Byerly said.
“It may end up playing out that there are only designated spots (food trucks) can go in, or it could play out that they could go out on any streets,” she said.
The owners of two local food trucks, Mess Haul and Pipe Dream Cupcakes, both declined comment on the proposed bylaw.
The new regulations haven’t been a contentious issue in North Andover, according to Bellavance. In fact, the operator of one food truck serves on the committee creating the regulations.
“She helped us. She participated in the drafting of the regulations,” he said. “I haven’t heard much from residents.”
Andover’s Annual Town Meeting will be held May 5, 6, 12 and 13 in Andover High School’s Collins Center Auditorium on Shawsheen Road.