DENHAM SPRINGS — There may be only one food truck operating in Denham Springs, but that’s not stopping city officials from considering a plethora of regulations on anyone who wants to operate a food truck.
After reading a news story about a deadly explosion aboard a food truck that injured several people, City Councilwoman Annie Fugler said, she knew her own city needed to implement regulations to keep residents safe.
She hopes the proposed ordinance also levels the playing field between trucks and Denham Springs’ permanent restaurants.
“Our businesses have a number of ordinances they have to comply with. Our food trucks have none,” she said.
The proposed ordinance requires operators of food trucks to obtain various permits from the state Department of Health and Hospitals and to register for business licenses.
A variety of regulations would limit where they could set up shop, including within 300 feet of a restaurant. The proposal also would prohibit trucks from setting up tables and chairs and would require operators provide trash cans. However, the restrictions would be loosened for events such as fairs and would not apply for private catered events such as weddings.
City Attorney Paeton Burkett helped draft the proposed ordinance based on New Orleans’ regulations. She expects food trucks, which already are popular in Baton Rouge, to begin “trickling in” to Denham Springs.
Fugler said she knew of only one truck operating in the city currently. Councilman John Wascom asked if the proposed ordinance was brought up in response to a specific truck or complaint, but Fugler said the regulations are meant to be proactive.
The two went back and forth, with Wascom saying the proposed ordinance addresses issues other than safety and was written without other council members having a chance to participate.
“I’ve had no input,” he said. “We need to work on this together as a council.”
Mayor Jimmy Durbin told the pair to save their debate and potential amendments for a public hearing to be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 27 in City Hall. Wascom alone voted against scheduling the hearing, saying the proposal was not ready.
In an unrelated matter, the council voted to enter into a yearlong contract with PoliceReports.us, a website that allows people who have been in car wrecks to check their crash reports online.
Police Capt. Steve Kistler said he hopes to begin offering the service by the beginning of November. Reports will be identical to copies provided at the Police Department and are public records, though users have to know either the incident number of a wreck or the date of the crash and name of a person involved.
The service works with the state Department of Motor Vehicles and is free to the city, though users will have to pay $13.50 per report.