Food truck operators now have clear rules governing how they may operate in the city of Arnold.
The Arnold City Council recently approved several ordinances spelling out where and when food trucks may operate, what permits are required to conduct business in the city and how operators may secure business licenses.
Before the ordinance was passed, food trucks were allowed to operate in Arnold with a peddler’s license.
Now a food truck needs a business license to operate in the city. In addition, if a food truck is to operate at a special event, the event organizer needs a special event permit, and if a truck is to operate in a residential or commercial area, it needs a conditional-use permit.
“We actually have some rules now; before we really didn’t,” City Administrator Bryan Richison said. “It was always kind of a question mark on how do we handle these trucks? Are they businesses that need business licenses? What if they are just coming in one day for an event? There were all of these questions. We’ve got that all sorted out now and have a system to handle them.”
While food trucks have operated in the city for a while, Richison said they seemed to gain popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he saw a few trucks operate in his neighborhood, which allowed neighbors to share meals together while maintaining social distance.
“If people want to have a truck come to their event or to their home because they are having neighbors over, that can still happen through the special event process,” Richison said. “It is a pretty simple process and there is no fee. It is still very possible to have these trucks in Arnold and serve the needs of our citizens for parties and events.”
The city’s special event rules were updated May 20 and spell out what those events are and how food trucks may operate at events. The council voted 7-0 to pass those regulations. Ward 1 Councilman EJ Fleischmann was absent from the meeting.
The city created three event categories:
■ Civic – outdoor activities sponsored by nonprofit organizations, schools or public entities.
■ Sales and promotional – outdoor promotional activities held by businesses.
■ Private – outdoor events held by organizations that are not open to the public.
Another ordinance passed by a 7-0 vote during the May meeting says food trucks only need business licenses but no permits to operate in industrial districts.
However, food trucks need conditional-use permits to operate in commercial, park and scenic, and manufactured home districts.
On April 15, council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that spells out requirements for food trucks to receive a business license.
“We didn’t address it before,” Bookless said of the reason for creating an ordinance that specifically deals with how food trucks receive business licenses to operate in Arnold. “Technically, if something is not in the code, it is not a use that can be licensed.”
Bookless said the rules also were created to prevent unintended consequences of allowing food trucks in Arnold.
Those rules try to address issues that if not kept in check could give food trucks a competitive advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. They also address littering, noise nuisances, hours of operation, signage and seating.
The rules also require trucks to obtain proper licensing from the Jefferson County Health Department and Rock Community Fire Protection District, and the rules address other possible safety issues, like power sources, food storage and traffic issues.
“It is about safety,” Bookless said. “It is about not allowing a nuisance to be created and to make sure we do our best to make sure the is a level playing field.”
Bookless said his department has received a few calls from food truck owners wanting to operate in Arnold, as well as calls from restaurant owners worried about the trucks taking away their business. He also said his department has received reports of some food trucks operating in Arnold without contacting the city.
The business license rules permit food trucks to operate in Arnold’s industrial zones, which are primarily located on Arnold Tenbrook Road, Lonedell Road near the Meramec River and Industrial Drive off Jeffco Boulevard and near Pomme Creek Park.
The rules also say food trucks are only allowed to operate in Arnold for up to five days in a row and only for 15 days during a single month.
Bookless said food trucks will be allowed to operate in residential and commercial areas with a special event permit.
“A special event could be an opening, customer appreciation event, a sidewalk sale; it could be a lot of things,” Bookless said. “It also could be a church doing a fundraiser or picnic.”
Along with establishing rules for food trucks, council members also approved changes to an ordinance that spells out how ice cream trucks, peddlers, solicitors and canvassers can operate in Arnold.
Bookless said ice cream trucks are not considered food trucks because they operate like peddlers, meaning ice cream trucks are rarely stationary.
“They typically only stop for a handful of minutes before moving on,” Bookless said. “
While most changes were minor, updating language, one revision included establishing a no-visit list for residents.
The no-visit list is akin to a no-call list that is supposed to keep telemarketers from calling certain numbers.
Residents will be able to sign up for the no-visit list, and their names and addresses would be put on a list given to ice cream truck operators, peddlers, solicitors and canvassers when they receive their license to operate in Arnold.
Bookless said details about how residents may sign up for the list are being worked out.
“Ideally, we would have a form on the website and allow residents to come in (to City Hall to register for the list),” Bookless said. “We would have them provide their information and carve out what they are and are not interested in. They may be OK with someone canvassing, but they may not be OK with a door-to-door salesman. We need to work out those details.”