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Controversy over food trucks replaces pay raise issue

What was supposed to be the big story in Amherst on Monday wasn't, and what wasn't expected to be a story at all was.

Town officials who thought they would be in the middle of a debate about pay raises instead found themselves dealing with fallout from news that the Lloyd Taco Truck had been kicked out of Amherst. It was the third time since late August that a food truck has been forced to stop operating in Amherst and the second time since Friday.

At one point, a police officer threatened to have the truck towed away from Amherst Commerce Park on Ridge Lea Road even though it was there at the business park's invitation and had a designed parking spot, said taco truck owner Peter Cimino, who has serviced that location biweekly for six months.

Lloyd's has been operating in Amherst for nearly two years, Cimino said.
On Friday, the Knight Slider food truck, which is new to the area, was shooed away from an Amherst location by a town code enforcement officer, despite the truck also being located on private property at the business's invitation.

Both the town police chief and the building commissioner, whose employees undertook enforcement against the food trucks, said they had no knowledge of the actions being taken by their staff at the time.

"I've not given any directive to my staff to enforce this," said Building Commissioner Thomas Ketchum, who said he would look into the matter more today.

The town is in the process of developing a specific permit that would apply to food trucks. Currently, all that's on the books is a permit required for "transient businesses" that is location-specific and is good for only 90 days.

Both town and food truck operators agree that the law regarding "transient businesses" is outdated, meant to apply more to short-term peddlers and not to food truck businesses.

Ketchum said he expects to have a proposed food truck permit written for the board to consider within the next few weeks.

Police Chief John Askey, meanwhile, said that after hearing what happened with the taco truck Monday, he's instructed all his officers to leave the trucks alone.

Meanwhile, at Monday's Town Board meeting, Supervisor Barry Weinstein put forward a resolution that would have given raises of roughly 2 percent to all elected officials, ranging from an additional $500 for Council members to an additional $1,700 for the highway superintendent.

But none of the other five Council members offered to second Weinstein's motion, so the resolution died a quiet death with no discussion.