Amherst ground-zero in latest food truck battle

April 7, 2013 Updated Apr 8, 2013 at 6:39 AM EDT

By Allen Leight

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April 7, 2013 Updated Apr 8, 2013 at 6:39 AM EDT

AMHERST, NY (WKBW) - The Town of Amherst is the latest to consider adopting new rules to regulate the operation of food trucks.

The current proposal being considered by the board would charge a $500 fee each year for every truck operation in the town. Food truck operators would also have to pass a criminal background check.

The major sticking point, though, for many in the WNY Food Truck Association, is a provision that would only allow the trucks to operate for 60 minutes a day on public property.

It's a rule that association attorney Mitchell Stenger says he has not seen anywhere else in the country, and it's one that would hamper food trucks from doing business.

"All these trucks have 20 to 30 minutes they have to spend in setting up. Then they have to break it down, and if they can only open up and sell for somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes, it's not financially feasible for them to go out and do that," said Stenger.

For some brick and mortar restaurant owners, the fees are needed as a way to level the playing field. Some say it's unfair that they have pay property taxes, utilities and maintain a building when food trucks can just roll up and take away customers.

Stenger argues that food trucks have plenty of fees to pay as well, including licensing fees to operate in many municipalities, insurance, and fuel. They often times have to sub-let kitchen space to prepare their food.

Recently a petition was started online to rally against the current proposal in Amherst. As of Sunday night there were over 2,800 signatures.

Bernice Radle was one of the supporters who signed the petition, and says towns and residents need be more welcoming to the emerging business model.

"We need to learn how to embrace the food trucks. These are new businesses, these are new people who are interested in the city, interested in the region. They want to invest here, they want to make their mark," Radle said.

The Amherst Town Board is holding a public discussion Monday night at 7:00 p.m. where they will consider the new regulations.

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