City establishes permit protocols

The Rosemount City Council approved a new mobile food unit ordinance during Tuesday’s meeting, though it came with several questions from members of the community and the council.

The ordinance essentially regulates food truck operations in the city.

City Administrator Logan Martin said interest in bringing food trucks to area businesses and residential neighborhoods has increased in recent years.

A number of neighborhoods would invite food trucks to park on the street for once or twice a week.

The majority of it was overwhelmingly welcome in the neighborhoods.

But Marin said some of these “popular pop-up events led to some neighborhood complaints.”

Some of the complaints involved blocked driveways, people unable to access their property, and homeowners reporting people standing in their yards.

During the last few months, city staff put together a subcommittee to see if an ordinance could put some “arms around what a successful food truck operation might look like,” Martin said.

Under the new ordinance, food trucks are considered a private event caterer and would require a permit.

No more than four permits will be given per residential address per year.

“We’re recognizing that it may not always be desirable to live next to a property that will have 30 to 40 events during the summer,” Martin said. “It might impact their quality of life.”

They reviewed other cities’ “food truck” ordinances for guidance.

“Four permits per year is the one we were constantly seeing,” Martin said.

Anthony Nemcek, city planner, said four seems like a reasonable amount for people who may want a food truck for anniversary or graduation parties.

That doesn’t mean weekly food truck block parties are all over.

“Most of our ordinances operate on a complaint-driven basis,” Martin said. “We don’t expect to investigate every permitted event. The permit is a notification to city staff that we’re aware of it.”

While each resident can request four permits per year, their next door neighbor can also make four requests.

Council Member Tammy Block said that eight neighbors could get together and request 32 trucks per summer.

“This would just require some taking of ownership of the food trucks to more than one house per neighborhood,” Nemcek said.

Martin said city staff will work with neighborhoods.

“It’s OK to have a party graduation or a wedding, but if it begins to look like a commercial venue because it’s there every weekend, we’re going down the road that you’re violating the core quiet enjoyment of a residential district,” Mayor Bill Droste said. “If we don’t have complaints, things could occur that way.”

Council Member Paul Essler said the intent is to provide a mechanism to handle any complaints.

“Those are those hometown events we want to encourage,” Essler said. “These are great community events we want to see more of.”

Per the new ordinance, food trucks could operate in a commercial, business park or industrial zoned area with the consent of the property owner.

Martin used the example that a restaurant owner could say no to a food truck that would want to park in its parking lot, while other businesses may invite food trucks.

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