Whiteville city council hears complaints and support about food truck ordinance

Whiteville city council hears complaints and support about food truck ordinance
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:16 PM EDT
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WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - Food trucks have grown in popularity, especially during the pandemic when restaurant owners had to close their restaurants. Many turned to food trucks to stay in business, but they’re not universally welcomed in some communities.

Whiteville City Council held a food truck workshop/special meeting Thursday to hear from the community about the city’s food truck ordinance in the commercial district within city limits.

Thursday’s workshop drew businesses owners on both sides of the debate. Many business owners say they fear the direct competition, but others welcome the potential change to help grow the community.

“My concern is these food trucks aren’t on a level playing field with brick-and-mortar stores. We have more overhead costs then per se they do. I’m not anti food truck, but they need to be in some type of way regulated that doesn’t affect a brick-and-mortar stores, because I just feel it’s unfair play,” restaurant owner Sammy Jacobs said.

People like Sammy Jacobs favor some restrictions, like the hours the trucks can operate in certain areas. He also thinks they should be a certain distance away from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Mahmoud Abdelnabi also owns a restaurant in town and has considered starting his own food truck. He believes they can help businesses expand their customer base.

“I felt like this is a good time to do so to help the business grow, help establish the business help, you know, me pay my bills, and, you know, same for my partners as well. So, I think if this gets passed is going to give people the opportunity to make Columbus County bigger, make it grow, make it more established, you know,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do with being in one spot. You have to wait for the people to come to you, if they don’t come then you don’t eat, you don’t pay your bills, you don’t pay your employees and that becomes a problem. So, I want to catch it before it becomes an issue for me.”

Whiteville’s mayor, Terry Mann, says he hopes to find the middle ground so everyone can benefit.

“It’s a very emotional issue for restaurant owners, especially small, independently-owned, and they’ve been there downtown a long time,” , Mann said. “I think there’s there’s room for both. I think we can come to some kind of agreement and maybe some possible regulations to make it livable on both sides.”

Whiteville’s planning board staff will now work on a new proposal to present at their October meeting. If approved, the proposal will then go to city council.