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Williamsville taking hands-off approach to food trucks

The Village of Williamsville doesn’t appear to have the appetite for a long and contentious debate over food trucks like the food fight currently raging in Amherst over the trendy rolling kitchens.

A few weeks after the town became the latest suburb to debate laws for food trucks, village officials Monday grappled with the issue in public for the first time.

And while some form of regulation is likely, the village – contrary to the town – may take a more hands-off approach.

“I don’t see this as something that needs to shake the village to its core or create the world’s largest debate,” Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said. “Let’s try to proceed sort of open-minded about this.”

Buffalo’s nine operating food truck operators have been itching to get into Amherst because of its size and the number of office parks that have few lunchtime options.

Williamsville, though, remains just as prime a target for the food vendors because of the bustling Main Street commercial strip.

“There’s a demand that’s not being met in the village right now for quickly prepared food,” Mitch Stenger, the lawyer who represents the Western New York Food Truck Association, told village trustees.

Lloyd Taco Truck and others plan to meet that demand by focusing both on private parties such as church festivals – where they would not be regulated – and public vending along Main Street.

Any public vending would be subject to town code, and like Amherst, the village has an outdated peddling code that could stand to be updated, said Village Attorney Charles D. Grieco.

But village trustees don’t think they need to get too worked up over how to make that happen.

Kulpa is instead encouraging the food trucks to meet with the village’s restaurant association to iron out any issues that might arise from future legislation.

“It’s business to business, it’s not the village trying to dictate things to a business or regulate business to the nth degree until after the businesses come to us with a proposal,” Kulpa said.

One board member even cast doubt on the legality of the minimum distance away from a restaurant mandated by Buffalo and likely to be implemented in Amherst.

“That’s one of those things where I’m like, ‘Really?’ ” Trustee Christopher J. Duquin said. “How do you regulate that?”

In Williamsville, food trucks now must pay an $80 peddling fee and an additional $30 fee for a special event permit.

Those fees will remain in place for the next few months as the village decides on a more permanent solution.

“That’s actually refreshing that a municipality has decided that maybe government isn’t the best referee,” said Peter Cimino, co-owner of Lloyd. “This could be a model for East Aurora, Hamburg, Kenmore or the other villages who will be knocking on our door.”