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Amherst preps rules on food carts

Select Board leader: let’s not ‘overregulate’ touchegulate’

At Monday’s Select Board meeting, Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe presented an outline of potential new regulations on which she would like to get feedback from her colleagues, town officials, residents and business owners.

O’Keeffe said the current situation could benefit from some tweaks, but wants to take a responsible approach in preserving the downtown vitality the food carts offer.

“We don’t want to overregulate what is a small food-truck situation,” O’Keeffe said.

The town has always issued food cart licenses, but generally in a more casual way, with the periodic hot dog vendor operating from the sidewalks. O’Keeffe said she wants the town to be prepared in case there is an influx of such vendors, similar to how the town was unprepared for an explosion in taxi cab companies.

The concerns in the fall were related to three carts, though the Select Board only got formal complaints about two.

New York Halal Food set up at the corner of North Pleasant Street and Kellogg Avenue, with the issues centering on its customers using outdoor tables at a nearby restaurant and having people attempt to use the cart as a drive-through window.

Paris & Ty’s has been located next to the Town Common on South Pleasant Street, with the primary concern being the noise made by its generator.

The third food cart is Bite Me Please Grilled Cheese, located near the weekly farmers markets during the spring, summer and fall.

The memo related to the potential new regulations is accompanied by maps showing sidewalks and parking spaces where future food carts would be allowed, mostly near green areas, Town Common, Kendrick Park and Sweetser Park, and instituting a cap of six on-street trucks and four sidewalk carts.

“Our recommendation is that growth should be directed toward areas of lighter use in order to encourage liveliness and vibrancy throughout the downtown,” the memo reads.

This developed out of a meeting in the fall with Alex Krogh-Grabbe, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, and Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

Krogh-Grabbe told the Select Board he supports the draft and appreciates that O’Keeffe has responded to input from businesses.

The regulations make no change in the $125 permits for mobile food service from the Board of Health and $100 lunch cart licenses from the Select Board.

O’Keeffe said the aim is to formally approve the new regulatory language in March or April.

Anyone is welcome to submit feedback on the proposed regulations to the Select Board at Town Hall or by sending email to selectboard@amherstma.gov.

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