Brainerd council will not change food truck restrictions this year

The planning and zoning commission will revisit the ordinance as a whole, but not changes will take place this summer.

A food stand serves customers Stars and Stripes Days in Pequot Lakes. The Brainerd City Council previously considered lightening the city's food truck regulations this summer but decided Aug. 3 not to do so this year.. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Food truck restrictions in Brainerd will not be loosened this year, as city council members agreed it is too late in the summer to make changes.

The council first took the issue up July 20, when Community Development Director David Chanski told them he received a lot of requests from food truck owners to come to Brainerd this summer due to fairs across the state being canceled this year. The problem for many, though, were too stringent of regulations on the city’s part.

City code allows food trucks to operate in certain areas around west Brainerd, the county government center, downtown, the Northern Pacific Center, the intersection of highways 18 and 25, Brainerd Industrial Park, Central Lakes College and the Franklin Arts Center.

At the July meeting, Chanski suggested the council put a moratorium on the food truck ordinance, allowing for more of them to operate elsewhere in the city. The council largely consented to revisiting the ordinance but did not want to completely suspend it at the time. Council member Kelly Bevans, also chair of the safety and public works committee, volunteered his committee to review the ordinance at the following meeting.

Chanski brought the issue back before the committee Monday, Aug. 3, and said he learned from City Attorney Joe Langel the council would have to go through a formal ordinance amendment process to make any changes or to suspend a portion for the time being. That means staff drafting language for an amendment or a suspension and then the council having two readings and a public hearing, which would take at least two more weeks if the process began Monday.


When Chanski asked how this issue differed from the council being able to immediately authorize an outdoor extension of premises for restaurants that could not have indoor seating due to COVID-19 earlier this year, he said Langel told him that was a direct result of a public health emergency. The food truck issue, though, was not.

“He (Langel) said doing it in this case would be quite a stretch to try and tie food trucks to COVID-19, even though there’s that idea of the food trucks are getting out and about more because of many fairs being canceled,” Chanski said. “But he said that would be a stretch.”

Committee member Jan Lambert suggested the whole ordinance be sent to the planning and zoning commission for review, as by the time any changes would happen, food trucks would likely be getting ready to shut down for the year. Chanski previously said Labor Day is usually when food trucks start winding down.

Committee member Wayne Erickson agreed with Lambert, unless, he said, there was a substantial number of food trucks that would make use of the change yet this year. Chanski said in July he probably had about half a dozen calls from food truck owners wanting to come to the city but opting not to because of restrictions.

The rest of the council did not discuss the issue further during the regular council meeting Monday night but agreed to hold off on restrictions for this summer and send the ordinance to planning and zoning to review changes that might help more food trucks operate in Brainerd in the future.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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