The Southampton Town Board voted down Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera’s resolution to allow food trucks at pre-existing non-conforming farm stands, 3-2.
A topic of debate over the last few months, the law that failed to pass, in its current form, differed drastically from the initial proposal, taking into consideration feedback and comments from the public and other board members.
Assistant town attorney Kathryn Garvin said the vending vehicles would only be allowed to operate at farm stands Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 3 PM.
“I know there was concern that you’d be seeing these food trucks all the time, so we thought, to start off, we’d limit it to a few days for a couple of hours,” Garvin said.
Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said because the new resolution is so different, he thought a new public hearing should be required. The supervisor also believed the peddlers license section, not the farm stand section of the code, should be changed. Preston Scalera argued the impetus of the amendment was to give farm stands the ability to cash in on evolving trends like food trucks to help amp up business, and in turn aid local businesses who have food trucks.
“All we’ve done is continue to make this so limited that it would not apply in the vast way that many people expressed their concerns were about,” Preston Scalera said. “That wasn’t the intent.”
Residents and board members also thought that requiring that the food be predominantly comprised (80 percent) of ingredients produced or grown locally would be hard to enforce. Schneiderman said he’d still like to instead see farm stands creating their own dishes using their own ingredients.
“I think our farm stands and our farms are such an important part of our rural character, our community, and our economy,” he said. “I still remain concerned introducing food trucks just to pre-existing farm stands without understanding the impact, particularly on those in residential zones, not knowing where they are, the smells, parking, traffic, and changing the aesthetic of this bucolic agrarian area for a food truck we won’t have much control over. We need to protect a certain feeling. I’m not ready. I don’t think this is the right piece of legislation at this point.”
Councilman John Bouvier agreed, and thought the town should have more control, with individual restaurant owners seeking food truck permits appearing before the board, and the board establishing certain criteria and parameters for each to operate under.
Councilwoman Julie Lofstad, the only other board member to vote for the resolution, said she supports the proposed legislation, thinking it’s a good start, but said that if it did fail, she hoped the conversation would continue.
“We need to support the farmer however we can,” the councilwoman said. “As a farmer of the sea, I’m in the same boat. And value added is really important these days.”