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Fried Dough or Fresh Corn? Food Trucks, Farmer's Markets Could Soon Expand in Roswell

The Roswell City Council gave initial approval to allow mobile food vendors and expand Farmer's Markets citywide.

Craving a steamed hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard on your lunch break? Or garden fresh tomatoes and okra this summer? Soon, both may be found easily in Roswell.

The gave initial approval last night to move forward with two new regulations: allowing mobile food vendors and expanding open-air Farmer’s Markets to operate citywide. Both will need additional votes from the council before they are passed.

Mobile Food Vendors

Currently, street food vendors are not allowed in Roswell, but the regulations were set in motion when someone requested permission to set up their own food truck, said Bradford Townsend, Planning and Zoning director.

The new rules could apply to food trucks stationed in a parking lot, or a vendor who sets up at a street festival. Vendors won’t be able to set up before March, when the council plans to vote again.

Under the proposed regulations:

  • Food vendors would have to apply for a license.
  • Felons and people with recent drug and alcohol convictions could be prohibited from obtaining a license.
  • Food trucks have to be at least 200 feet from any other restaurant, unless they have permission from the owner.
  • They can’t operate after dark, so if you’re looking for a slice of pizza at midnight as you leave the bars, you won’t find it.
  • Ice cream trucks have to be clearly labeled with the name of the business, so you can’t sell snow cones out of the back of your pickup truck.
  • Food would have to be prepared elsewhere, in a kitchen located in a building.
  • License fees will be set by the city council

Mayor Jere Wood questioned a provision that would require food vendors to be fingerprinted and photographed, saying this is not required for other restaurant employees.

“If you work at McDonald’s, you don’t have to be fingerprinted,” he said.

Council Member Jerry Orlans expressed concern about competition between food trucks that could set up near an existing restaurant, particularly ones in the historic district that had invested a lot of money in renovations.

But the mayor advocated allowing food trucks to be closer to existing restaurants than the proposed 200 feet.

“I believe in letting folks fairly compete,” Wood said.

Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Markets are currently allowed in the historic district, but this new policy would allow open-air markets throughout the city, as long as they are in commercial areas.

The new proposal will likely come before the city council again in March or April, Townsend said.

The city is considering expanding Farmer’s Markets because of requests for it, such as one from , a shopping complex on Etris Road, which wants to hold a farmer’s market on Thursdays, Townsend said.

Under the proposed regulations:

  • Farmers’ Markets must apply annually for a permit.
  • At least 75 percent of the products sold must be either produce or farm products like jams, canned vegetables or smoked meats.
  • A market manager must be on site.
  • The market can operate two days a week.
  • Markets can operate for six hours a day between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Parking must be available.

Council Member Rich Dippolito expressed concerns about problems that could arise from allowing Farmer’s Markets throughout the city, but the council has the ability to change the procedures or deny permits if there are problems.

Roswell resident Janet Russell encouraged the council to look at more options for food sales, particularly for people who live between the Chattahoochee River and Alpharetta, where there are few grocery stores, if any, along State Route 9, and getting groceries is difficult for people who rely on public transit.

“We live in what is called the food desert,” Russell said.

Jake Lilley January 11, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Food trucks and competition are good. Giving your fiingerprints to the government in order to operate a business is bad.
Milton Hill January 11, 2012 at 04:03 PM
This will encourage me to visit Roswell more often. Farmer's markets and food trucks are both significant draws for me.
Toni James February 04, 2012 at 04:05 AM
We love the Sweet Apple market and the market at City Hall. It's great to be able to buy local produce. It tastes so much better than from the grocery.

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