Share this article

print logo

Amherst Town Board hits impasse on rules for food trucks

The food truck fight in Amherst rages on – with no sign of ending anytime soon.

Town leaders Monday tried to hash out new rules for the popular rolling kitchens before throwing up their arms and vowing to start again.

“We’re pretty well divided,” said Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein. “We have three who are listening to the food truck industry, and three who feel a strong obligation to protect the neighborhoods from business encroachment.”

The board had appeared ready to finalize a new set of rules Monday, three weeks after the food truck operators protested the original rules. But any sort of agreement on the new restrictions fell apart late last week.

The impasse means the future of food trucks in the region’s largest suburb remains uncertain as the summer dining season approaches, saidPeter Cimino, owner of Lloyd Taco Truck.

“Now I’m turning things down or waiting on things,” Cimino said. “I could be doing great business there.”

Still, the dozen food truck owners are “willing to be patient to get this thing right,” said Mitch Stenger, an attorney for the Western New York Food Truck Association.

Building Commissioner Thomas Ketchum will again draft a new set of proposed regulations to be discussed at the Town Board’s next work session.

But it is uncertain when – or whether – the board will agree upon a new set of regulations. Weinstein suspended discussion Monday after it was clear no consensus was in sight.

Weinstein said he now wants total agreement on the rules – six “yes” votes – as opposed to the four votes that would be needed to make the changes law.

And the battle lines in the food fight have never been more clearly drawn.

Food truck operators are pushing for regulations that would allow them to operate for up to three hours on residential or commercial property. They also object to proposed curfews of 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., depending on where their kitchens are located.

“I never thought I would be saying this, but we’re more grateful for the way we worked with the Buffalo Common Council than the Amherst Town Board,” Cimino said. “Buffalo is not perfect, but it’s miles away from what we have here.”

The proposed $400 fee in Amherst is less than Buffalo’s $500 charge, but Amherst has proposed more restrictions on vending in neighborhoods and in public parking spaces.

Weinstein, meanwhile, said “special interests” have caused the process of food truck regulation to drag on.

“They’re a new industry that doesn’t want to be regulated,” Weinstein said. “We also have brick-and-mortar restaurants that need to be protected. They’ve been paying us taxes for years.”

The board will again discuss the matter Monday.

A public hearing is set for May 20.