Lacoste voices concern over food truck legislation
First Warden Ken Lacoste voiced his concerns to members of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation regarding the local impact of proposed changes to the state’s food truck statutes, saying that the changes would adversely impact food truck and food carts on the island. Lacoste attended a public hearing held by the DBR at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission in Warwick on Feb. 14.
Under the new legislation, applicants must maintain an annual Mobile Food Service License from the Department of Health, Center for Food Protection; be inspected annually by the state’s Fire Marshal, and obtain a compliant Fire Safety inspection report; locations would now be regulated by town zoning; Del’s Lemonade-type food carts would be classified as food trucks; and the town would have to rewrite its ordinance to separate food trucks from hawkers and peddlers, because they have been separated under state law.
Lacoste told The Times that he thinks “the basic tenets of our legislation should be maintained. Some of the details of procuring the state permit may impact our three food truck folks.” The island’s three locally licensed food truck owners are Carole Payne (Killer Donuts at Fort Island on Ocean Avenue), Cindy Kelly (Pots and Kettles at Mosquito Beach and Old Town Road), and André Boudreau (Southeast Light Delights at the Southeast Lighthouse).
Lacoste said the Department of Business Regulation’s “Senior Legal Counsel, Amy C. Stewart, was there taking testimony from anyone who wished to comment,” along with two other members of the department’s staff. “It was not a discussion. There was no feedback from the officials in the room. They were there to listen.” Lacoste said that “no state legislators” were in attendance at the hearing.
“There was no discussion back and forth with (Stewart),” said Lacoste, who noted that “about a half dozen folks gave their opinions on the proposal” at the hearing. “I believe they all represented actual food truck operators and owners” in the state. “I basically pointed out the uniqueness of our situation.”
During the hearing, Lacoste said he “stressed the restrictions of our ordinance and our desire to retain local control of the number of permits and (food truck) locations. I pointed out that requiring our food trucks to have the State Fire Marshal inspection would be a burden for our local operators and I would hope that accommodation could be made for our local Fire Marshal to do the required inspection. I pointed out that the proposed renewals would occur on the anniversary of the application rather than annually at one time, which is how we do it; this discrepancy would be problematic for us. I questioned whether the proposed ordinance was intended to include caterer vans and small lemonade carts; this might trigger a rewrite/update of our hawkers and peddlers ordinance.”