Thursday, August 11, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Expansion of food truck frequency in downtown Graham fails

Graham’s repeated consideration of how often to allow food trucks in the central business district took a unique turn this week. In a somewhat ironic twist, one council member’s desire to extend a pending temporary provision for an additional two months ended up resulting in no change at all.

Last month, the city council had voted 3-2 to allow a temporary change in the city’s food truck ordinance.

The city’s current ordinance allows food trucks at the same location no more often than every three days within a seven-day period.

Businessman Patrick Miller had requested that he be allowed to operate his food truck five days out of every seven.

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In March, his request was rejected by the council 3-1, after the council had forcibly recused council member Jennifer Talley from participating in the discussion and vote.

In April, the same proposal was back before the council, but with a “temporary” timeframe that would “sunset,” or terminate, the expanded number of days on June 1.

The temporary measure passed 3-2, with Talley and councilman Ricky Hall opposed.

Peterman had ruled that because the provision was temporary, Talley could participate in the discussion and vote at that meeting.

Because of the close margin on the April vote, Graham’s council rules require the matter to come back before the council for a “second reading,” which was on the agenda for this month’s meeting of the council.

But when the matter came up this week, council member Melody Wiggins suggested that because of the passage of time, the “sunset” aspect of the provision should be extended until August 1.

When Peterman pressed ahead with a vote on the second reading of the proposal with its June 1 sunset provision, it failed 2-3. While he and mayor pro tem Chip Turner supported the original provision, as they had last month, Wiggins voted against, as did Talley and Hall, who opposed the provision in its entirety last month.

Wiggins then made a new motion to expand the days for food trucks to five within every seven day period and proposed a “sunset” date of August 1. However, her motion failed for lack of a second.

The result is that the city’s standard rules on food trucks – no more than three days at the same location within every seven days – remains in place.

But food trucks may still be on next month’s agenda, as well. At the end of a 5½ hour meeting, a letter was read by Mary Faucette, the city’s downtown development coordinator, conveying the requests of the co-owners of a downtown bar, now known as Little Brother Brewing, to allow “food trucks/trailers” in parking spaces along West Elm Street. The existing ordinance contemplates food trucks on privately-owned property.

Co-owners Jeff Collie and Josh Coe said they would anticipate using this service once or twice each week. “Except in rare circumstances,” they added, they said the time period would be “during weekdays trucks will be onsite after 5 p.m.”

They said they want to “bring additional foot traffic to downtown Graham businesses and provide additional dining options for Graham residents.” They also assured the council that “in consideration of existing downtown restaurants, “we will limit frequency and prioritize vendors with menus not in direct competition with neighboring businesses.”

Meanwhile, Talley continued to question why the food truck issue seems to monopolize so much of the council’s time when an ordinance has already been enacted to govern their operation and frequency.

Nonetheless, Peterman suggested that the issue could be on the council’s June 8 meeting.
Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr., present to cover the council’s deliberations, asked whether local business owners near the bar would be notified of the council’s June 8 consideration of the request to use parking spaces for food trucks.

Boney said, he for one, did not want to see city parking spaces along West Elm Street diverted from customer parking to food trucks. The newspaper office, at 114 West Elm Street, is just a few doors down from the bar, which is located at 106 West Elm Street.

Peterman said business owners would be notified of the proposal prior to the June 8 meeting.

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