On Monday, a public forum will be held at town hall to review the legislation that would regulate mobile food vendors in town and open it up to comment from business owners and residents.

The Issue

Owner of Young's BBQ in Middletown, Keith Young, said that mobile food vendors are unfair competition for small restaurants and that he has lost about 20 percent of his business over it.

"Whether it's barbeque, pizza or coffee, it's not good for the structural integrity of small business," he said.

In January, Young went before Middletown mayor and council to address his concerns.

He then drafted an ordinance that would limit mobile food vendors and submitted it to the town.

Young, who has been in business for about six years said that he feels that he is doing something right since he weathered the recession.

On Monday, a public forum will be held at town hall to review the legislation and open it up to comment from business owners and residents.

What's Being Said

Young said that his competition isn't about who's food is better, but it's about the way it's being done.

He refers to the mobile barbeque unit that operates occasionally across from the Valero Gas Station on Main Street.

"It should be done on an equal playing field," he said. "Let him get a restaurant and what I'm doing, and do it right, and see where he stands after that."

This is one of the issues Young raised with the town – that mobile vendors have an unfair advantage over local small businesses because they don't have to pay rent, he said.

"While he still might have gotten a license from the town or may be insured by the Board of Health, it's not the kind of structural integrity small business is built on," Young said.

In the last year, two men went through the process to have their mobile food carts approved by the town.

One was approved and the other withdrawn.

Last December, mayor and council unanimously approved Clint Johnson's request for permission to operate a BBQ food trailer on the corner of Wood Street and West Main Street.

"He's out there cooking outside and I'm in a building with a license and insurance," Young said. "This isn't about who's food is better, it's about the way it's being done."

Johnson's unit does not operate on a daily basis.

Middletown Police said that the location was concerning to them because the particular intersection is busy and that the truck creates a hazard.

Police Chief Henry Tobin also noted that the mobile unit creates a lot of smoke.

In June, Jose Flores, owner of the 13 N. Broad Street business, spoke on behalf of Eduardo Torres Sierra for permission to operate a mobile food unit called "Taco Loco Express" in the parking lot.

Limited parking in the lot Flores requested raised questions by council and the request was withdrawn.

Later that month, a New Castle man was issued a criminal summons by Middletown Police for operating an unlicensed taco truck in the unit block of Anderson Street.

Police said that Jose Moratin, 28, was operating a taco trailer in town without a business license.

What's Being Done

The town of Middletown will be holding a public hearing Monday to review an ordinance that would amend part of the town's zooming code relating to mobile food vendors.

The legislation will be open for public comment and feedback and may be altered before its scheduled vote Nov. 5.

In it's opening graph, the new code, as currently written, says that vendors from temporary vehicles do not pay town property taxes are not otherwise invested in the town and its long-term success.

The drafted ordinance would require mobile vendors operating on private property to maintain public write-of-way with written permission from the property owner and to properly dispose of all grease and trash in accordance with the town's laws.

A conditional use permit will not be required by ice cream trucks or vehicles operating during festivals or celebrations approved by the town.


What Public Hearing on Ordinance 12-10-01

When Monday Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.

Where Council Chamber at Town Hall

19 W. Green Street in Middletown