By Adam Swift
PEABODY — Food trucks are more popular than ever, but one City Councilor is worried that the city could be overrun by these restaurants on the go.
Food trucks are licensed by the state and only need to pass a local health department inspection to operate within city limits. Councilor-at-Large David Gravel is asking the council’s industrial and community development committee to look at creating an ordinance to help regulate the trucks.
The most conspicuous spot for the mobile eateries is Centennial Park, Gravel said, with at least three making the rounds in recent weeks.
“The question this raised to me is, is there no ordinance to protect the city against an onslaught of food trucks?” Gravel said. “The answer is that there is no ordinance to protect against an onslaught of food trucks or food wagons. They fall under state legislation as a hawkers license.”
It looks to be too late to address one immediate concern about an excessive bounty of the food trucks, the councilor said.
“In two weeks, we’re going to be hosting the Senior Open (golf tournament at Salem Country Club), and any food truck will be able to operate along a public way as long as it passes inspection,” Gravel said.
Potential problems lay beyond Centennial Park and the Senior Open, he added. Since there are no regulations, the vehicles can also set up shop in front of any existing city business.
“Based on what I’ve seen and researched, if they want to park it down in front of Brothers (Deli on Main Street), they can, as long as they pay the parking meters,” said Gravel. “They can park right out at City Hall or in a neighborhood near you.”
Ward 4 Councilor Ed Charest said he’s also concerned about the lack of regulations for food trucks and other businesses permitted by hawkers licenses.
“Flower vendors and gift vendors use the same procedure, and it’s going to create a problem,” said Charest. Gravel said the industrial and community development committee will look at all businesses regulated by state hawkers licenses.
“Would this include ice cream trucks, too?” Councilor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin asked. Gravel said there are special provisions for ice cream trucks separate from other food trucks, but that those regulations could be discussed in the future.