SP Board OK's Revised Food Truck Measure
When David Talbert filed his petition for a zoning amendment that would allow food trucks in Southern Pines, he mistakenly included the central business district.
“I never had any intention of going that direction,” Talbert said Thursday during a public hearing before the Southern Pines Planning Board. “I don’t want to be in the historical district.”
In fact, Talbert had the words “central business district” removed from the petition prior to the hearing.
That deletion allayed the fears of three downtown restaurateurs.
“We got the impression that you were going to have a food truck downtown, where the pie is only so big,” said Steve Grasso, co-owner of Broad Street Bakery. “Our major concern is that his truck would have impeded on our businesses downtown. That would have been devastating.”
Grasso’s concerns were echoed by Con O’Mahoney, owner of The Bell Tree tavern, and Rhett Morris, owner of Rhett’s restaurant.
“We were all worried,” Morris said.
O’Mahoney told the board about a vendor whom he believes illegally sells hot dogs in downtown Southern Pines at night.
“Who polices these things?” he asked. “I’m curious because there are a number of infractions that happen.”
O’Mahoney was told by town staff that the code enforcement department “does not operate at night,” and that he should call the police department.
Meanwhile, Talbert wants to move his mobile barbecue stand from its decade-long location every Thursday and Friday at the corner of Broad Street and Morganton Road to a lot behind Bill Smith Ford.
“We’re talking a move of about 200 yards,” he said. “It would actually be farther away from downtown.”
Greg Zywocinski, a Southern Pines businessman, voiced his opposition to the zoning amendment, not Talbert.
“He is not the issue. The issue is, ‘Who’s next?’ Who controls if the truck looks nice or the food tastes good?” Zywocinski said. “To me, this is really opening a Pandora’s Box. This is not how Southern Pines needs to be going.”
After spending more than two hours listening to testimony, debating the issues and tweaking amendment language, the board unanimously recommended approval to the Southern Pines Town Council.
Approval was conditioned upon Town Attorney Doug Gill’s concurrence with the changes, as well as that of town staff.
“Staff has to get the ducks in a row,” board member Mike Martin said.
The main changes to the amendment included removing the central business district; requiring three permits, including one for the property owner and two for the food truck; allowing only one truck per site; and removing on-site outdoor seating.
The council will conduct a public hearing at its meeting on Nov. 9, at which time it will likely vote on the matter.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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