Food trucks may soon be allowed in Coon Rapids

Contributing Writer

Food trucks are not allowed in Coon Rapids at this time because they are not covered by the city code, but that could soon change.

The Coon Rapids City Council, at a work session March 28, talked about licensing mobile food units through the transient and itinerant merchant code chapter at the suggestion of City Clerk Joan Lenzmeier.

The proposal was prompted by a number of inquiries received by staff concerning licensing of mobile food units, and a check of area communities found most allow them, with different ways of handling licensing requirements, according to Lenzmeier. There are a couple of exceptions: Blaine does not allow food trucks to park, while Anoka only permits ice cream trucks.

Under the licensing language recommended by Lenzmeier, the food trucks would be allowed in residential, office, commercial, port (on Coon Rapids Boulevard) and industrial zoning districts with the permission of the property owner.

Food trucks would also be required to get a city license to locate on residential property that is being used for an institutional purpose (churches, schools, etc.) where food is provided for a public event.

But following council discussion, a special event permit covering all licenses is likely to be included in the ordinance for public events, such as Epiphany Springfest, Lenzmeier said after the meeting.

Ice cream and milk trucks that have a scheduled route in the city to deliver products to customers would not need a license, according to Lenzmeier, nor would residential property owners who want to rent a food truck for a private party at their home, where no food is sold to the general public.

The ordinance would carry a restriction that no mobile food units could be located closer than 150 feet from the entrance, exit or patio area of an existing brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Existing code has restrictions on where food trucks can be parked – specifically, on a paved surface, but not on city streets and not in a location that “impedes, inconveniences or endangers the public,” Lenzmeier said.

Lenzmeier is proposing that the same fee charged to licensed transient and itinerant merchants apply to mobile food truck vendors: $15 a day, $40 a week, $75 a month and $300 for the season, which would be about six months.

State law prohibits a mobile food truck from being parked in one spot for more than 21 days at a time, Lenzmeier said.

And in Anoka County, before a city license can be obtained, food truck vendors have to obtain a license from the county’s Community Health and Environmental Services Department, which requires a site plan review, ensures that the unit meets health and sanitation regulations and makes sure food safety requirements are met, Lenzmeier said.

“These are stringent requirements,” she said.

Council members, while generally favorable to licensing mobile food trucks, wanted language included in the ordinance that would require clean up by the vendor.

According to Council Member Brad Johnson, garbage left by mobile food trucks is an issue in the city of Minneapolis, where they are prevalent.

The vendors should be encouraged to move away from plastic foam and plastic to recyclable materials, Johnson said.

Council Member Jennifer Geisler suggested including incentives in the ordinance to encourage the use of eco-friendly materials.