HOLLAND — Holland City Council has officially amended its Unified Development Ordinance to give food trucks more opportunities to operate downtown.
The change — made last Wednesday, Nov. 2 — broadens regulations in downtown Holland and in commercial zones, while keeping restrictions near residences.
Amy Sasamoto, coordinator for the Downtown Development Authority, told The Sentinel in April mobile food carts, trucks or trailers were only permitted downtown during Tulip Time.
According to Tricia Dreir, assistant director of community and neighborhood services, the city will now allow some downtown businesses to host food trucks for special events.
“If a non-food business would like to have a food truck for a special event — like a member appreciation or employee appreciation event, they may do so for one day,” Dreir wrote in an email to The Sentinel.  “And they may do this up to six times per calendar year.”
But the loosened restrictions come with new requirements — moving forward, all food trucks operating within city limits must maintain an annual license, registered through the clerk’s office.
“We are following in the footsteps of other local jurisdictions that require an annual license,” Dreir wrote. “This is not a new idea, just new to the city. A food truck owner/operator will file an application with the city clerk and pay an annual fee (to be determined) and they will get an annual license.”   
Dreir said some restrictions will remain in place to maintain a balance for residents.
“Everyone has a right to reasonable enjoyment of their home and property,” she wrote. “That can be difficult if a business has an outdoor operation adjacent to your backyard.”
Tourists have often wondered why Holland, a tourist haven, doesn’t play host to food trucks more often. The city is actually more lenient than its northern neighbor, Holland Township, with regular operators like Outlaw Roasted Corn and Smoke’N Joe’s BBQ.
Outside the core downtown area, food trucks are allowed in most commercial-zoned districts.
“It’s very specific,” Brandon Kury, owner of Smoke’N Joe’s, told The Sentinel in April. “You can be in one parking lot and, if you’re in the wrong spot, you’re not parked legally anymore. But I actually talked with Tricia at the city offices and she sat down with me with a map and showed me where we could and couldn’t set up. At that point, it’s a matter of getting permission from the property owner.”
In the township, food trucks are limited to serving employees, patrons and customers of a permanent business on a privately owned “lot of record.” No more than two trucks can operate at once, and serving time is limited to two hours per day, per lot. 
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That means trucks must get permission from multiple businesses to have a full day of sales — with the exception of a “large-scale regional special event” (i.e. Tulip Time), during which the zoning administrator can give written authorization for trucks to operate for longer periods of time over a maximum of 14 days.
Leo Vazquez, owner of Outlaw Roasted Corn, once operated in the township at Holland Town Center. He hoped to start a regular event with food trucks — but, weeks after speaking to The Sentinel, he moved his business within the city limits.
— Austin Metz is a former Holland Sentinel reporter.

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