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City Council Moves Forward With Mobile Food Unit Ordinance

By Staff | Nov 12, 2020

by Jane Whitmore

The question of allowing mobile food units to operate in Emmetsburg was discussed during a public hearing at the Monday, Nov. 9, meeting of Emmetsburg City Council. With comments from the pubic and discussion among council representatives, the proposed ordinance will be placed on the agenda for the Nov. 23 meeting.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, Councilman Mike Hermansen proposed bringing the ordinance with mobile food units to the council. He also asked that people contact their council representatives with thoughts about the proposed ordinance change.

“The public hearing that we just held will document all the comments that were made tonight,” said City Administrator Kim Kibbie. “If we put this on the agenda, there will not be any more public comments for next time. It will be just whether the council decides to move forward with it or not.”

She continued, “We can put it on the agenda and the council can determine at the next meeting whether or not they want to make the motion to introduce the first reading.”

Mayor Pat Degen added, “Between now and the next meeting, if there are any changes you want to make on the ordinance, let administration know before it gets on the agenda.”

Public Hearing

When the public hearing was opened to the public, City Administrator Kim Kibbie told the council that there had been comments submitted to City Hall.

“Administration did receive comments from Chelsea Rouse, who lives in rural Curlew, and she is in favor of adding mobile food units,” Kibbie told the council.

“Myrna Heddinger called and left me a message that she is not in favor of a lot of outside vendors to come in, but she is okay with local businesses to have a mobile food unit.

“We did receive an email from Liz Hoppe and Liz is here with us. Liz said she is not against the code changes, but would like stipulations that protect local businesses by regulating type, frequency and location,” Kibbie said. “Those are the ones we heard from.”

Mayor Degen asked Liz Hoppe if she wanted to address the council.

“I’m not against food trucks. It would be good for Emmetsburg, bringing different people into town,” she said.

Hoppe, who is owner/operator of DejaBrew, pointed out mobile food units do not need to be in the community all the time. She expressed the need for some sort of guidelines to limit the competition so mobile food units don’t directly impact local businesses.

In her email to the council, Hoppe suggested limiting the types of food trucks that are allowed; limiting the days that food trucks can be in town; and defining a place where food trucks would park.

“I agree with what she (Liz Hoppe) is saying,” said Mayor Degen. “I don’t want to do anything that would hurt our people who are paying taxes, who have been here and are established here. I think we all need to take a look at this ordinance and see if we can come up with something that does not hurt our businesses.”

Kim Kibbie informed the council, “Just as a reminder. This was brought forth to us by Big Acai Bowls of Okoboji. They’re the ones that asked us to consider it. That’s why we brought it to the public.”

Councilman Steve Finer said, “I’m going to agree with Myrna (Heddinger). I don’t think the city’s going to gain enough to put other businesses at risk of losing business.”

Hermansen asked if Finer was opposed to having outside entities bringing in mobile units.

Finer answered, saying he is looking out for the people who have a brick and mortar store in Emmetsburg.

Read the full article in The Democrat.