Zoning commission considers restrictions on food trucks

by Laura Bednar

Sept. 25 zoning commission meeting

Sagamore Hills Zoning Commission members discussed potential regulations on food trucks in the township.

Zoning Inspector Ray Fantozzi said the issue arose when he received an inquiry for a food truck to operate in Marc’s parking lot at Sagamore Square. He denied the request because it was a commercial area and the truck would be staying for an extended period.

Zoning commission Chair Dr. David Koncal said there is a provision in the township code that permits conditional uses for food service, including fast food. “That by nature kind of allows them [food trucks],” he said.

If trucks were allowed in commercial areas, Koncal asked, “Would businesses view them as competition or additional foot traffic to the area?”

Township Attorney Jeff Snell said Northfield Center allows food trucks to park anywhere for a fee, but they must maintain a specified distance from areas like schools. “It’s hard to manage,” he said.

Commission members Dennis Witkiewicz and Peter Lachina were against allowing food trucks in the township. 

Koncal suggested that trucks be prohibited in commercial and industrial zones but permitted in residential, planned unit developments and church property. Commission member Dr. Robert Woodruff agreed to limit trucks to those areas.

Fantozzi suggested truck owners apply for a permit before operating in the township so he would know where trucks were present and for how long. He did not want to allow trucks in commercial areas to “stop vagrants from selling and [immediately] leaving.”

Also discussed was whether to prohibit public sales from food trucks at private events. Woodruff said public sales would have to be allowed because “there’s no way to police that.”

Snell said he would craft language based on the commission’s suggestions:

  • Food trucks are only permitted in residential or PUDs.
  • Can only hold events once a week up to 12 times a year.
  • Can only be open until 9 p.m.
  • May not park overnight.
  • Must receive permission from home owners associations.
  • Must obtain a permit from Fantozzi.

New Aurora Health comments

Several residents commented and posed questions about the proposed New Aurora Health addiction and mental health facility at 997 W. Aurora Rd., the former Elmcroft assisted living property.

A Canyon View Road resident said she has worked with health and mental health departments her whole life. She said she was concerned about open Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and wanted to know the staff-to-patient ratio because of staffing shortages in healthcare.

Resident Tom Kemery said he didn’t think people issued court-mandated treatment should be permitted at the facility. He was concerned how those people can be kept from leaving.

Addictions counselor and resident Ann Kuster said she was concerned that New Aurora Health was coming into this development without a business plan. She added that healthcare providers make more money for treating drug addiction. “Will they be looking for opioid dollars?” she asked.

Resident Kevin Johnson agreed, saying, “A lot of these things are being driven by equity firms.”

Kuster’s final question was, “If this doesn’t work out, are we going to have an eyesore over there [on W. Aurora].”

Koncal thanked residents for speaking and said to check the zoning commission agenda to see when New Aurora Health representatives would be at a meeting.

Next month’s meeting will start with a public hearing regarding the commission’s proposed language regulating solar panels. ∞