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Council reassures ice cream vendors

City Council on Monday sought to melt the worries of several vendors of frozen summer treats, reassuring them that a draft ordinance for regulating food trucks doesn’t apply for them.

Ice cream trucks and snow cone trucks aren’t included among operations that might eventually need to abide by rules stemming from the proposed ordinance, according to several council members.

“We’re not trying to put you out of business,” Councilman Bruce Kelley told the vendors. “Sorry that we caused you heartburn.”

A provision in the draft ordinance that would prohibit food truck operations within 50 feet of a residential building could force him to park in places where kids would be likely to cross in heavy traffic, said Steve Morrissey, who operates a shaved ice truck with his wife.

He and his son showed pictures to make their point.

Council members have already questioned that 50-foot provision and other parts of the draft ordinance — even for conventional food trucks, said Councilmen Jesse Ickes and Joe Carper.

The draft was merely a starting point anyway, solicitor Tom Finn.

And the discussions surrounding it were “more like brainstorming,” said Councilman Dave Butterbaugh.

That brainstorming discussion, however, got council members “hammered on social media,” Kelley said.

“I’m envisioning little kids picketing my house,” Kelley said.

The draft ordinance has not been introduced formally, he pointed out.

And it’s not likely to be “any time soon,” said Mayor Matt Pacifico.

There should not be a legal problem creating an ordinance eventually that would exempt ice cream, snow cone and similar trucks from regulation, Finn said.

Ice cream trucks should be exempt because they “focus on one or two specific products,” don’t require operating equipment like fryers, ovens and grills and tend to keep moving through neighborhoods, rather than parking, Butterbaugh said.

Parking near a brick-and-mortar restaurant could be a problem, potentially, Butterbaugh said.

The concern about food trucks initially grew out of their proliferation after the COVID-19 pandemic began and out of a couple trucks that were proposed to be — or actually were — stationary, rather than mobile.

Partway through the meeting, before the more definitive assurances from council, Dustin Rhodes of Rhodes Curbside Creamery didn’t seem sure of council’s ultimate intentions.

He wasn’t planning to do much with his truck until he learned “how it will play out,” he said.

Morrissey, though, seemed satisfied by the end.

“Thank you very much,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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