Brownstown Town Council denies food truck ordinance waiver request

BROWNSTOWN — The owners of a food truck will have to buy an annual permit if they want to operate in town limits after a waiver request recently was denied.

Nathan and Angie Patman, who operate Main Street Mobile in Brownstown, asked the town council during a February meeting for an exception based on the fact that they are not operating as a mobile food vendor.

While the truck is technically mobile, it doesn’t go anywhere, Nathan said. The truck had only been off of the property once, and that was to an event at a private residence outside of town, he said.

The Patmans started Main Street Mobile in July 2021 with the intent of running it until they get the nearby building at 109 N. Main St. renovated to open Main Street Diner.

Shortly after, the Brownstown Town Council began talking about establishing a mobile food truck ordinance, which would require vendors who set up shop within town limits to apply for a $125 permit at the town hall. That went into effect Jan. 1.

During a meeting earlier this month, President Gregg Goshorn said the council had discussed the Patmans’ ordinance waiver request, and a motion was made by Councilman Tim Robinson to decline it. That was seconded by Councilman Mark Reynolds and unanimously approved. The Patmans did not attend that meeting.

Goshorn also noted a nearby billboard had been removed and the food truck was put in its place to where it’s now parallel with Main Street (U.S. 50).

“It’s extremely close to the sidewalk, and it goes against our rule of being within 20 feet of any intersection, I’m afraid,” Councilwoman Sharon Koch said. “It’s right on the alley. Their steps are right on the alley, which I know is nothing to do with waiving their permit.”

While those are separate issues, Robinson said by definition, the Patmans’ truck is a mobile food truck.

“Even if he takes the tires off of it, it’s still a mobile food truck,” Reynolds responded.

After the vote was taken, Koch asked how the Patmans would be notified of their request being denied and them having to obtain a permit. Robinson said they should have a copy of the ordinance, but he would see that they get one.

Goshorn then asked Clerk-Treasurer David Willey how many vendors have applied and paid for permits, and he said three. Those are Donut Central, Junkyard Barbecue and Schocke’s Meats.

During the February meeting, Goshorn said the main reason the council established a mobile food truck ordinance was food safety for town residents, ensuring food trucks that come into town have all of the proper inspections and permits to operate.

The Patmans said the Jackson County Health Department inspects their food truck and kitchen, and they have both a mobile food vendor permit and a catering permit from the county. Angie said it’s required by law to have a commissary kitchen for a food truck, and they are fortunate to already have their own building.

The truck is connected to their building with electricity, water and propane tank all onsite, Nathan said.

Reynolds said the council also wanted to make sure the food trucks have liability insurance even though the county doesn’t require it. Nathan said they have liability insurance on their building and the property where the food truck sits.

“We’re on our own property. We pay property taxes where the truck sits,” he said.

Another reason for the ordinance, Koch said, is to protect the brick-and-mortar restaurants in town. Ironically, the Patmans have both a food truck and a brick-and-mortar business.

Nathan said they asked for an exception based on the nature of how they are doing business.

“At the end of the day, we are not operating as a food truck,” he said. “It’s an extension of the building that we own and pay property taxes on.”

The Patmans were asked if they still plan to get rid of their truck once the restaurant opens, and Nathan first responded no but then said they are going to leave their options open.

He said he would love to see the restaurant open this year, but he’s not sure if that will happen.