Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Elyria 73°

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Oberlin council debates changes to food truck laws


OBERLIN — Some members of Council and the owner of the Oberlin IGA grocery store said expanding food trucks’ access in Oberlin would be a detriment to the established restaurant community.

Leo Braido, the grocery store’s owner, came to the Council meeting Monday to protest changes to the ordinance governing food trucks, saying it would negatively impact his lunchtime sales.

The Council was asked to vote on amendments to the existing food truck law after some vendors requested they be allowed at the industrial park near the IGA, 331 E. Lorain St., on Artino Street during meal times.

But Council President Ronnie Rimbert said the changes proposed were “too loose” for his liking and not what was actually discussed in the planning stages.

“If you’re going to allow it on Artino Street, be prepared for it to come downtown,” Rimbert said. “It’s way too loose, and I don’t know how it got that loose, but I’m very disappointed with it.”

Other Council members, however, wanted to offer the trucks more freedom.

“We need to decide if we want food trucks or don’t want food trucks,” Councilman Kelley Singleton said. “The way I read this now is that we don’t.”

After much discussion, the Council voted 5-2 to remove the provision in the revised law allowing food trucks to be on private property during meal times, with Singleton and Councilman Bryan Burgess voting against.

The Council then passed a first reading of the ordinance, 6-1, with Singleton again voting against it.

Braido said in a phone call Tuesday that he was pleased they decided to take out that provision.

Several members of the Council agreed.

“I just don’t want to see people come in and take the money and drive back out of town,” Rimbert said.

Councilwoman Sharon Soucy said the last thing Council wants to do is hurt existing businesses.

“I think one of the Council’s concerns has been the balance between stimulating our economy and harming our economy, and that’s often difficult to decide,” Soucy said.

Braido told Council that if his business is compromised, he would not be able to donate as much as he does back to the community.

“They’re going to drive in, make a bunch of money and drive back out,” Braido said. “You think they’re going to do for this community what my business and all the other businesses do? I am strongly opposed, and I think it’s absolutely wrong to open it up and let every Tom, Dick and Harry come in here with a food truck who pays for a permit.”

But in addition to Singleton, Matt Adelman, chair of the Planning Commission and owner of The Feve, encouraged the Council to reconsider. Adelman also told Council that he had recently purchased a food truck,

He said he thought Braido’s fears were unfounded and told the Council that competition is good for business.

“We should have as welcoming a policy as possible,” Adelman said.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Council’s next meeting May 1.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.

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