Hopewell Township to decide on additional food trucks at Rosedale Mills in October

Rebecca Nowalski

Hopewell Township Committee members will make a decision next month on whether three food truck businesses can operate at the Rosedale Mills property.

When the township committee convenes for an Oct. 5 committee meeting, committee members will make the final decision regarding an amendment of a temporary activities permit granted to JHF Realty LLC, which already allows for one food truck to conduct business at the property.

JHF Realty is seeking the approval of up to three food trucks having the ability to do business at the same time in the parking area of the property, that could extend to the grassy section of Rosedale Mills, parallel to Route 31, according to resolution documents.

If approved, food trucks would have to be spaced 15 feet apart from each other, bumper to bumper; food services must be take-out only with no tables or other structures permitted onsite for patrons; and patrons would need to adhere to social distancing guidelines and are required to wear masks.

In addition to additional food trucks, the applicant is also seeking and extension for the permit through Nov. 30. Committee members are set to decide on the additional time also at the Oct. 5 meeting.

The township committee did, however, approve of an extension to the current temporary activities permit to Oct. 7 on Sept. 8, because of the expiration of the permit occurring on the same date as the October meeting.

Committee members pushed back the decision to approve or deny the amendment to the permit and November extension due to several concerns raised at a Sept. 8 township committee meeting, which included not having comments from Health Officer Dawn Marling regarding the permit application.

“We have all been very focused on offering our residents places to go and do in a careful and thoughtful manner, like keeping our parks and trails open and supporting food trucks where we had never really done that before, but I am very concerned about our small restaurants,” Mayor Kristin McLaughlin said. “I’m just not sure if I want to add to the competition at this point in time. It just seems to be the wrong message ‘Shop Local’ and oh by the way we have added other options for you to not.”

Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski reiterated the concern of creating new competition.

“Now that the governor has allowed indoor dining in addition to take-out and outdoor dining, I think we agreed in our last meeting without knowing what the future would entail to allow the food trucks to continue until early October, I think that is still appropriate,” he said.

Additional concerns also included owners of the food trucks potentially not being Hopewell Valley restaurants and space on the property for multiple food trucks.

“When we did introduce food trucks it was during the pandemic when indoor dining was closed and this was offering people alternatives,” Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger added. “When you have one food truck that is one thing, when you have three food trucks that is no longer a food truck that is a mobile food court. It would be one thing if it was a special event, but when they are there potentially for seven days a week that is no longer a special event.”