Video from Ed Richter

Middletown changing rules for food truck operators

City officials, Downtown Middletown Inc., local restaurants and an food truck operator have been working collaboratively on the proposed ordinance that will clarify where and when food trucks can operate.

The ordinance sets a designated area, mostly in the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area downtown, addresses hours, and also requires a permit valid from seven days to 12 months. The city cannot issue more than 50 permits for food trucks, which must also have a valid food service permit from a health department, according to the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance was introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and is expected to be adopted as an emergency measure to take immediate effect at council’s Aug. 2 meeting.

Middletown’s ordinance is similar to one enacted in Cincinnati, according to city manager Doug Adkins. He pointed to the Washington Park area in Cincinnati and said it has become a destination location with the enhancement of food choices.

There were concerns from some local restaurateurs about the increased competition of the food trucks, according to Adkins. The city also wanted to address health and safety as well as public and private property issues.

Councilman Tal Moon said he was supportive of the proposed ordinance.

“Food trucks will draw a different clientele and will not directly be competing with restaurants in the area,” he said.

Heather Gibson, co-owner of Triple Moon Coffee Co., said the inclusion of food trucks downtown will attract people who have never been to Middletown before.

“Competition is great,” she said. “It will be competitive, but I think it will bring more people to the area. More competition is good for all of us.”

Gibson, who has not seen the final version of the ordinance, said city officials tried to make everyone happy.

“You can’t make everyone happy, but they did the best job they could,” she said. “It (an earlier version) was fair, but we’ll wait and see.”

One Bistro’s Robert Adamson, who was included in the ordinance discussions and operates a food truck in Xenia and Miamisburg, said he did not like the initial drafts of the ordinance but has not seen the final version.

“We’re not coming into Middletown to take away their (restaurants) business, we want to partner with them,” he said. “I would love, love, love to have a food truck pod in Middletown.”

The ordinance will allow a food truck vendor to operate on public or private property and set up tables and chairs in front of their units as long as they don’t impede other trucks from parking in available spots. However, the food trucks cannot operate in a residential district.

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