Cortez considers allowing food trucks in business district – The Journal

Ernie Padilla poses in front of his food truck, The Wigglin’ ​​Pig, in this archived photo. A proposed regulation would allow food trucks to be placed in the Cortez central business district. (journal file)

Schedule permit requests for a 90-day stay; Special events also allowed

The City of Cortez is considering new land use law regulations to allow mobile food trucks in the Central Business District.

Food trucks are generally permitted in all zones of the city except for the central business district.

The downtown district includes an eight-block area bounded by North Street to the north, First Street to the south, Harrison Street to the east, and Linden Street to the west.

The city council heard a first reading of the proposed regulation to expand the use of downtown food trucks at its regular Oct. 11 meeting.

It would change the land use code to allow food trucks in the Central Business District on public or private property for up to 90 days in a location with a conditional use permit.

The code change would also allow food trucks to operate in the Central Business District during approved temporary special events like the Cortez Farmers Market.

Conditional use permits for longer-term downtown would account for impacts on neighboring businesses, city officials said.

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Permit applications are reviewed by the planning department, neighbors are notified, and public hearings are held before the city council.

The proposed regulation says food truck vendors in the Central Business District would only be allowed in approved locations and never on state or public roads unless closed for approved special events.

Interest has increased in allowing food trucks into the Farmers Market. Food trucks aren’t allowed at the market because the site is adjacent to the county administration building in the central business district, Cortez planner Nancy Dosdall said. The Farmers Market would qualify under the Food Truck permit for special events.

The conditional use permit scheme could be used to allow a food truck spot on a vacant lot downtown, officials said.

After discussing the proposal on October 11, the city council decided to take the matter forward in a workshop on October 25. A first reading is rescheduled.

The workshop allows time to iron out details, including whether the number of days that a conditional permit would allow for the installation of a food truck in the Central Business District should be longer.

The Cortez Planning Commission reviewed the proposed changes to the food truck regulations and recommended approval.

Collected public input

At the request of the city council, the planning department launched a public process this summer and fall to reconsider the ban on food trucks in the Central Business District.

The city hosted a public forum, conducted a survey with 372 participants, and met with downtown food truck vendors and businesses to promote the idea.

Because the process generated feedback and discussion from the community, most food trucks were supportive in general, including for the downtown district, Dosdall said.

However, downtown businesses said they didn’t want the food trucks to interfere with on-street parking or the right-of-way required for their customers.

Targeted outreach to downtown business owners on this issue also revealed that increasing competition from downtown food trucks is a problem for brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Food trucks like Kelly’s Kitchen could be placed in downtown Cortez under a proposed ordinance. (Courtesy of Kelly’s Kitchen)

City officials said the conditional use permitting process could be an effective tool to address and mitigate potential problems.

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“We held public hearings and outreach and found a compromise that appealed to the public’s desire for downtown food trucks but also protected the businesses,” Dosdall said.

The permits could set parameters for food trucks in the business district. For example, they could specify distances from food trucks to existing restaurants, days and hours of operation, or require permission from restaurants within a certain distance.

Incidentally, food trucks are allowed during third Thursday events in Montezuma Park since it’s just outside the boundaries of the Central Business District.

Current regulations

All food trucks must comply with the existing Mobile Food Vendor section of the Land Use Act, which includes possession of a sales tax license and compliance with Montezuma County Department of Health and Human Services regulations for food service.

Written permission from the owner is required for installation on private property. They may be operated in a legal public parking lot provided they comply with parking restrictions. They may not operate on city property, regardless of zone district, unless permission is granted elsewhere in the code or by the city manager.

Current regulations limit food truck hours to 7am to 9pm, and they must be removed from the site when not open for business.

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