Freeport council sets fees for food trucks

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FREEPORT — Food trucks are now allowed in some parts of town after the Town Council established a fee structure for the businesses. 

The council on Dec. 2 approved a zoning amendment that allows the trucks. On Tuesday, councilors set fees for the trucks at $30 for one day, $150 for up to 30 consecutive days, and $500 for up to 365 consecutive days.

The zoning amendment, which was recommended by the Planning Board, adds the definition of “artisan food and beverage” providers to the town’s zoning ordinance to describe small-scale food-and-drink establishments that may run food trucks as accessory uses in specific zoning districts.

The trucks, however, will continue to be banned in the busy downtown Village Commercial Districts 1-4. 

Food trucks will be allowed in Commercial Districts 1, 3, and 4, the Local Business District, Industrial Districts 1 and 2, and Medium Density Districts A and B. A zoning map can be found on the Freeport town website.

The zoning amendment first came before the Planning Board earlier this fall at the request of the Maine Beer Co. at 525 U.S. Route 1. It asked the Project Review Board for permission to have a food truck at its brewery during the summer, but the board didn’t have the authority to grant the company’s request.

The fees were decided upon after town staff reached out to other towns and cities in the state to see what they charge food truck operators. Portland’s fees are $500 a year, along with a $110 base station fee if the owner relocates the truck.

In South Portland, food trucks are only allowed for special events for a $140 fee. In Brunswick, temporary food trucks are allowed for only one to three days for a $25 fee.

Some councilors wondered if Freeport’s fees would be high enough.

“I suggested $500 (a year) only because there was no one in Maine charging more than $500,” Town Manager Peter Joseph said.

The 30-day fee was originally $100, but councilors unanimously decided to raise it to $150.

“I would go more than $100 for 30 days because the hot time (for food trucks) is in the summer,” Councilor Andy Wellen said.

Wellen said councilors should raise the fee so the town can get more money from food truck owners who will definitely want to use their trucks in summer, regardless of cost. 

Wellen also said he wants food truck fees to be fair to restaurants, that unlike food trucks, have to pay property taxes. 

“I don’t want to go too cheap because (food truck owners) need to pay their fair share,” he said.

Councilor Jim Hendricks said it can be difficult to put food trucks on the same level as restaurants and that they can’t be treated the same way.

“When you’re talking about food trucks, we have limited where they can be,” Hendricks said. “I don’t think we can compare them to a restaurant that has a permanent place to be.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.