Old Bridge officials discuss booming business, regulation of food trucks in township

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Attendees at the Edison Chamber of Commerce food truck festival.

OLD BRIDGE – In an effort to catch up with the booming business of mobile food trucks as well as provide necessary safety measures, the township is in the process of establishing uniform objective standards for operators to follow.

The Township Council discussed and moved to rescind and replace an ordinance for first reading at a meeting on Nov. 16. Township Zoning Officer Damien Gill said the original ordinance was established in 1973 for veterans and retirees looking to start side businesses of “lunch food wagons.”

“Now today the Food Network will say [these food trucks are] big business,” he said. “There’s a lot of people operating these in very sophisticated ways.”

Officials said there are 10 to 11 active food trucks in the township.

Gill; Pat Reardon, construction officer; and Veena Sawant, planning officer, worked on modernizing the ordinance.

Township Attorney Mark Roselli called the original ordinance sparse with limited regulations. The proposed ordinance provides definitions of stationary food trucks and mobile food trucks; where they can operate with safety precautions; the need for consent of property owners; and requires annual license renewals with proper liability insurance, tax certificates, background checks and health requirements.

Officials proposed increasing the annual license fee from $100 to $500 for the mobile food truck; licenses for ice cream trucks remains at $100.

Township Council members said they were in favor of increasing safety measures, however, felt the increased in the annual license fee was exorbitant.

Council members also discussed the allowance of picnic tables, which the proposed ordinance does not allow.

Mayor Owen Henry said the impetus of the proposed ordinance is about safety. He said there is flexibility with license fees and safely placing picnic tables.

Further discussion will be held at the next council meeting in December. Roselli said changes to license fees and safety procedures can be made before final ordinance adoption.