MUSCODA – It was another packed house last Wednesday evening, May 5, during the meeting of the ad hoc committee to draft an ordinance on the regulation of outdoor food stalls and mobile catering units. The meeting sparked much discussion around the Muscoda community, the village government and the food trucks. This raised passions and led to a meeting lasting almost two hours.
The committee, which consists of Dorothy Hackle, Larry Anderson, Dave Wiederholt, Dan Behrens, Scott Sander (absent from Wednesday’s meeting), Jim Patch and Bill Scramm met to consider the draft ordinance in question. The ordinance will be presented to council on Tuesday, May 11 at 7 p.m., where Muscoda village council will make the next decision regarding food trucks in Muscoda.
Schramm drafted the ordinance based on discussions at the last meeting, as well as ordinances from other communities, such as Two Rivers, Richland Center and Prairie du Chien. However, Muscoda Village President Dorothy Hackle explained that no other municipality in Grant County currently has a food truck ordinance since the Platteville ordinance was abolished. Hackle noted that she raised this issue at the Grant County Chamber of Commerce meeting and received this information there.
The draft ordinance included definitions of the situation in question as a mobile catering establishment. Meaning a restaurant or retail establishment where food is served or sold from a mobile vehicle, push cart, trailer, or boat that periodically or continuously changes location and requires a service base to accommodate the unit for maintenance, cleaning, inspection and maintenance. The mobile catering establishment does not include the following: A vehicle that is used solely to transport or deliver meals prepared elsewhere than in or on the vehicle to specific persons, a public carrier regulated by the state or government federal, rental establishment, contract or special request, to provide food service to a private group, organization or business and is not serving members of the general public, provided the establishment is in full compliance with all applicable state food and health code requirements.
The specific exemptions in the draft ordinance included nonprofits, anyone under the age of 18 selling water, soda, crushed ice or a similar beverage, only occasionally from a booth. on private property, a person selling agricultural food products that they have grown, food stands at a festival, those who operate a permanent business establishment in Muscoda or sell food at auction.
Schramm continued to review the draft ordinance with the ad hoc committee while members of the community listened to him. During the prohibited and required acts portion of the meeting, which included the hours of operation and the days of the calendar month available to operate, elicited a number of reactions from the crowd.
At the previous meeting, it was suggested that the ordinance be written that food trucks should only be allowed to travel Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I would like to discuss this part?” Why from Monday to Thursday? Asked a participant in the meeting.
“This is just a starting point,” replied Larry Anderson, a member of the committee meeting. “It’s just a suggestion, that’s all it was.”
“But I would like to go to dinner on Friday night,” the committee member said. “Could that change then?”
“These are just recommendations that we make to the village council,” noted President Dan Behrens.
“There are no clear reasons why it should be limited, so I don’t think it should be limited,” echoed another community member.
“In the other meeting, it was very clear that the (restrictions on) weekend hours were due to the rush hours of other businesses here,” another community member noted.
“Again, this will be discussed at the final board meeting. It’s just a committee to make suggestions to the board, ”Anderson said.
The mood seemed to get a little tense, as community members started saying that they “would like something other than bar food, that’s why we want a food truck!” and “My problem is we’ve wasted everyone’s time. We created this whole ordinance to regulate a food truck, but are excluding 10 other stalls in this community. Are there 20 other food trucks planning to come that we need to create this ordinance on? “
“It’s not a food truck, it’s just any food truck,” Anderson replied.
“It seems really prejudiced to me. You don’t want any stranger to come in! You want us to go to another city if we want anything else. Here we just have food at the bar! Another member of the community raised his voice to say.
“Now there are no regulations. They could show up every day. We are doing this now to have a little prescription to help our business people and help you. It can’t just be one or the other. And we’re not just attacking Mexicans, you have to make yourself understood, ”said Anderson.
“This is an ordinance on food trucks and trailers. We had no regulations on when and where they could operate. No other business works like this. »Behrens noted.
“It’s great to suddenly see so many people engaged in civic affairs,” remarked a community member. “I think the idea that making sure that an order is in the public interest and not in a private order is something to pay attention to.”
“I guess my question is why there is so much controversy in Muscoda. No one has had this discussion, why is this happening? Asked a member of the community.
“Other communities have had these discussions, not having a prescription is not something I believe in and that’s my opinion and you are welcome to have yours,” Behrens said. “I admit it freely, I was wrong, I know I did it, I will pay the price. But in terms of talking to other businesses in the communities, I did that research. I spoke to the room. I didn’t get into this business on a whim, but I could have done it better. Behrens said.
“I think we create a problem before there is a problem,” said another community member.
At one point in the meeting, Hackle pointed out to the crowd that this was only a draft and that the final decision would be made by the village board at the May 11 meeting.
The issue resurfaced once again after a discussion of why food trucks are limited to Monday through Thursday.
“At the last meeting we had we figured out if this would be every day of the week, both concerns from business owners in the community and concerns from the public, how do we give and accept on both sides, and that was a suggestion that was brought forward and that’s the suggestion that was discussed, and I’m sure there are people who are going to feel different, ”Behrens said.
One community member noted that it’s only “twice a month” so why limit it?
Legion Commander and community member Tom Nondorf explained that while each vendor is only allowed two permits, there can be any number of food trucks here during these days. And that before, he was limited to only Monday and Tuesday, and asked for more. “If we’re trying to grow this community, let’s open it Monday through Thursday because I look at establishments and when I’m in town I see their busiest times are Fridays. So I asked the board to focus Monday through Thursday in the way our establishments continue to do so. Yes, we all want the food truck but we have to support the establishments.
“I will support our local establishments. A lot of these community members have, I don’t want you to do any harm, but we want some kind of happy median. To help Muscoda survive and grow, we don’t want to turn a blind eye to something else every now and then. I love your Honker food, I go to Sportsmans, and Vickies too, I will continue to do this, this is our community, we have to meet somewhere in the middle. There is passion on both sides. Let’s go on and find somewhere in the middle and meet up there, ”shared another.
A young woman in the crowd addressed the board with another question regarding the image of the community through this situation.
“Aside from the food trucks, I think this situation caused a lot of backlash for the Muscoda community as a whole, with the many posts on social media. People are tearing us apart left and right, saying we are not welcome. Other than one food truck in particular, what do you plan to do about this? How are you going to welcome people back? »Asked the young woman.
“I stayed out because I knew I was going to be here and I knew there were a lot of things that weren’t true. I don’t want this personal attack to be part of the conversation. I didn’t think it was something I should do. Fix that you treat people well with respect. When it comes to the chamber or the community, I don’t think an ordinance regulating food trucks is a problem. It’s cancer and disregard for what happened in a government institution and social media has been doing it for a long time, ”Behrens replied.
As discussions continued, it was suggested that one of the days available on the permit out of the two be open on any day of the week. Thus, one of the two permits purchased for the calendar month could only be used from Monday to Thursday, while the other could be used from Sunday to Sunday.
In the end, it seemed like the crowd continued to support the food trucks and tried to express pride in their businesses in the small community. Towards the end of the meeting, the ad hoc committee decided to adopt the suggestion to allow the use of one of the permits on any day of the week. It seemed to strike the right balance between business owners and the crowd.
Although it was a vibrant, passionate, emotional encounter, the story does not end there. The village of Muscoda will meet after press time for this issue on May 11 at 7 p.m. to hopefully finalize the ordinance, if an agreement can be reached. More information on this and other government actions for the village of Muscoda will be available in the coming weeks. Muscoda Progressive.