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Buckeye Planning and Zoning learns about food trucks

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BUCKEYE — Food trucks have to move every 24 hours in Buckeye.

That was one of many messages city of Buckeye Senior Planner Randy Proch delivered to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night.

The Commission received a one-hour presentation on food trucks, limitations, recent changes to limitations and what’s happening in that industry.

Three of the first things Proch pointed out were that food trucks can’t set up on private property without the landowner’s permission, operations cannot be in direct conflict with approved site or use plans, and lighting and sound must be directed away from local businesses or residences.

“How are some regulations and rules to be interpreted?” Proch said. “That will be a question to ask with a lot of these rules and other talking points, going forward.”

Arizona House Bill 2371 was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2018. That law prevents cities and counties from enacting a range of regulations on food trucks.

Current food-truck regulations in Buckeye include:

• No more than 24 continuous hours on a single property.

• If trucks are at a permanent location, site improvements and a site plan must be city-approved.

• Food trucks and associated items on private property must be on a paved, dust-free surface.

• Food trucks cannot set up within 250 feet of residentially zoned property.

• No external storage containers, coolers, refrigerators, storage buildings or permanent canopies are permitted.

Proch said it’s important to note literal and unilateral interpretations of food truck laws and regulations — no matter if those are state or local rules — is dubious, and that public conversation is the preferred way to hash things out.

“With the 250-foot requirement for residential property, are we really saying that ice cream trucks can’t be in our neighborhoods?” Proch asked, rhetorically, as an example of one of the many thoughts about regulations. “Kind of, but we’ll get to that.”

Proch said county boards of supervisors have some latitude, and restrictions not mentioned allowed cities to create language.

Counties are allowed to:

• Impose operating hours only if they are the same as the operating hours imposed on restaurants in that county.

• Restrict or prohibit the operation of a mobile food unit in an area zoned as residential only.

• Prohibit a mobile food unit operating on private property from blocking ingress to and egress from that property.

• Prohibit a mobile food vendor or mobile food unit from blocking vehicular traffic on public streets and roads.

• Prohibit or restrict a mobile food vendor from operating at a public airport.

• Restrict the number of parking spaces, vehicle size and parking duration and the ability to occupy sites with insufficient parking.

Proch pointed out cities cannot create special mobile food vendor permits or require those. Those are handled at the county level. Cities can only require business licenses.

Also, cities cannot impose distance requirements between food truck sales areas and restaurants or other types of businesses, except to meet fire code or other health or safety requirements.

Commissioner Ted Burton suggested the city produce some type of single-sheet “can and cannot” checklist for ways food truck operators can conduct business.

Proch walked the commission through some important areas where the commission could review city codes or possibly be asked to vote on new code. These included permanent placement guidelines, utility access, separators, time limits, drive-thru service and site improvements and alterations.

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