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Board open to food trucks in parks

The Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board indicated it's open to allowing food trucks in the city parks, but has many questions about implementation. Some of those questions include whether the operators would fill out an application and pay a fee ...

The Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board indicated it's open to allowing food trucks in the city parks, but has many questions about implementation.

Some of those questions include whether the operators would fill out an application and pay a fee beyond initial licensing, how the required 300-foot buffer would be measured from festivals in the parks and whether the trucks could be restricted from selling the same items as parks-run concession stands.

The board discussed the issue Tuesday after the Brainerd City Council approved ordinances governing "transient food units" - including trucks, trailers, wagons, carts and seasonal temporary food stands - last week. One ordinance outlined the permitted boundaries, hours of operation and uses, while the other amended the city's zoning map.

Council passage was followed by a veto from Mayor James Wallin three days later. Wallin said one of the reasons for his veto was he believed the ordinances, which permitted food trucks in city parks, usurped the park board's authority.

Among permitted uses described in the proposed ordinance was the directive, "sales are permitted in a city park when approved by the city of Brainerd." The council chose to strike "when approved by the city of Brainerd" before passage, raising red flags for Wallin.

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The Brainerd city charter grants "control and supervision of all parks, parkways and boulevards within the city" to the parks and recreation board. City Attorney Eric Quiring said he is continuing to research the issue and will share more information at the council's next meeting. To overturn a mayoral veto, the council must re-introduce the ordinances and pass them with a two-thirds majority, or 5-2.

Council member Gabe Johnson, who serves as liaison to the park board, said he believed the ordinance did not override the park board's authority in the city charter. The city's zoning would allow food trucks in the parks, Johnson said, but the park board would retain ultimate authority on the matter.

"The park board is still operating the parks," Johnson said. "The park board would probably have final say. But we couldn't pass an ordinance saying it's not allowed in the parks, because then the park board would have no say."

The ordinances would allow units to park in eight designated zones, on public and private property in the city, most from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the downtown zone, hours of operation would be allowed from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. The other designated zones are: west Brainerd, the county government center, the Northern Pacific Center, the intersection of Highways 18 and 25, the Brainerd Industrial Park, Central Lakes College and the Franklin Art Center parking lot. The truck proprietors would need to provide written permission from a property owner to the city to park on private property.

The trucks would be allowed to sell only food and nonalcoholic beverages and must acquire a license from the city of Brainerd. Operators would not be allowed to draw attention to themselves with audible noise or music beyond the unit, nor is exterior lighting permitted. Sales would not be permitted within 300 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant or bar that serves food or within the same distance from the property perimeter of any festival, sporting event or civic event. This includes whether the restaurant is open or closed, city administrator Patrick Wussow said.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Related Topics: BRAINERD
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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