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Amherst Select Board adopts rules for food vendors

Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe said the rules recognize that lunch carts have proven to be popular with the public.

“We wanted to make sure they are accommodated as positively as possible and that we are taking a welcoming approach to this,” O’Keeffe said.

The regulations developed from a meeting O’Keeffe had 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, and feedback from the public and business owners over the winter.

Three carts have operated for the last year. New York Halal Food sets up at the corner of North Pleasant Street and Kellogg Avenue, Paris & Ty’s has been located next to the Town Common on South Pleasant Street and Bite Me Please Grilled Cheese is often near the weekly farmers markets during the spring, summer and fall.

In a memo to the board, O’Keeffe described the rules, which were vetted by town counsel, as “fair and positive for all concerned, and provides a useful structure for the Select Board to work with in considering food truck license applications.”

For the on-street trucks, the idea is to bring or restore vitality to places that are more quiet and have fewer pedestrians.

These lunch carts will be restricted to the west side of the Town Common south of Spring Street, the west side of Kendrick Park and the north and east sides of Sweetser Park.

“It’s kind of striking the right balance of all the things we were looking for,” O’Keeffe said.

The sidewalk carts have numerous options, including all the areas food trucks can use as well as the sidewalk in front of St. Brigid’s Church, the plaza in front of the Unitarian Meetinghouse, Realignment Park at the corner of North Pleasant and Hallock streets, the sidewalk in front of Jones Library and on the sidewalk just south of Bank of America on South Pleasant Street.

Food carts will not be allowed to use music to attract customers.

“To allow them to be potentially noisy with music or whatever seemed like something you wanted to nip in the bud at the beginning,” O’Keeffe said.

There will be a cap of six on-street lunch cart licenses and four on-sidewalk cart licenses.

The regulations do not change the $125 fee for mobile food service permits from the Board of Health and $100 lunch cart licenses from the Select Board, which is a cap set by the state.

Even though there had been a request for meter bags for on-street food trucks, these will not be used. Instead, the town may initiate permit parking for food trucks. In the meantime, the proprietors of on-street trucks will be responsible for feeding the meters, but time limits on spaces are waived.

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