Olathe may soon be welcoming food trucks with open arms.
At its meeting Tuesday evening, the city council reviewed potential changes to the city’s mobile food vendor regulations.
Currently, mobile food vendors are permitted in Olathe only as part of a temporary sales and event permit as stated in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance. The ordinance also states that the sale of merchandise from a vehicle or temporary structure is prohibited.
But as food trucks rise in popularity across the nation, the city has been receiving an increase in mobile food vendor inquiries over the past few years, city staff reported.
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To address potential changes, Olathe examined other cities’ regulations, spoke with downtown restaurant operators and analyzed potential issues.
Recommendations include allowing mobile food vendors to sell on public parking lots and rights-of-way. A 150-foot setback from brick and mortar restaurants would be required. The sale of alcohol and the use of table and chairs for customers would be prohibited. The hours of operation would be limited to daytime and twilight to prevent the need of illumination.
“This is not an ordinance, it’s just some ideas as we go forward,” planning manager Dave Clements told the council.
Over the next few weeks, city staff will review the recommendations and possibly make additional changes, before creating an ordinance for the council to consider at a future date.
The potential changes were met with enthusiasm by Councilwoman Marge Vogt.
She was initially concerned about the 150-foot setback from brick and mortar restaurants, but seemed satisfied by Clements’ response that the setback was to respect the existing restaurants.
“I just want to make sure that whatever we put together doesn’t appear restrictive,” she told him. “I don’t want these businesses to come here and be confused. We need to be reasonable with our expectations and supportive of these entrepreneurs because one day they just might open up a restaurant.”
Also at the meeting, the council approved the parks and recreation master plan.
Recommendations in the plan include redeveloping Cedar Lake and Lake Olathe as signature parks, replacing outdated landscape throughout the city and creating a master plan for cultural and historic sites.
The plan is not a policy document, but should be treated like a guide, said Leon Younger, the president of PROS Consulting.
The consultant said moving forward with the plan will add value to neighborhoods and homes.
“We just want to continue the journey of making Olathe a great place to live,” he said.