In its meeting Tuesday night, the Bridgeport City Council focused on setting precedents for what business owners can and can’t do on public and private property.
One discussion involved a city ordinance that allows food trucks to stay in Bridgeport for three hours at a time. Ryder Holley, owner of the Five Boys Ranch food truck, spoke to the council in a workshop item about changing the rule to allow him to stay on one piece of property for more than three hours.
Currently, Holley operates his food truck restaurant, named for his five sons, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily on Halsell Street behind Lowe’s. Due to the ordinance, he must move the truck to a different spot every three hours.
Luckily for him, he owns two adjoining tracts, so he simply moves the truck 50 feet – from a gas station to Texas Exhaust – whenever he has to move.
“By the time everything inside the truck is stationary, we clean up all our spills, and we allow some cool-down time for the oils and stuff, I’d say it takes about an hour or a little over an hour [to move],” Holley said in an interview Wednesday. “All that just to move it 50 feet. It’s just more of a headache than it is for anything else.”
Chapter 4, Section 4.107, Subsection 5 of the Bridgeport City Ordinance, adopted in October 2010, says “No mobile food unit shall remain parked in one location for longer than three hours.”
City Administrator Brandon Emmons said that this was done in order to keep the city clean from potential litter, not to stifle business pursuits.
“Right now he’s complying with the ordinance, even though I don’t think that’s the spirit of the law as it was written,” Emmons said.
Holley’s suggestion to the council was to amend the city code to eliminate the three-hour rule if the food truck is within so many feet of a facility with a restroom and trash cans, as his is, or to investigate the possibility of setting up a food truck park in Harwood Park.
Holley said he would support both options.
“I wouldn’t partake in the truck park just because I’ve got a good location [on Halsell], but I’m for both of them,” Holley said. “I think they’re both good ideas. Competition in the food industry is good business.”
The proposal is expected to be an action item at the coucil’s next meeting.
The next business owner with a request was Ken Kilpatrick, owner of Ken’s Appliances. Kilpatrick wants to hire people to carry mobile signs around town to promote an upcoming sale that he’s having.
The problem, the council said, was that those sign walkers would be near traffic right-of-ways – a big no-no according to the city code, which states that “a person commits an offense if the person attaches, erects or maintains any sign over or in the public rights-of-way” unless that sign specifically has to do with movement and traffic control.
Kilpatrick said he wants to “stay legal” with the signs, and that “[He's] just trying to function as a retailer.”
Mayor Corey Lane, who owns Furniture Supercenter in Bridgeport, said that allowing Kilpatrick to operate the mobile signs anywhere in town would not only cause traffic problems, but would also open the floodgates for a variety of competing business practices.
“Theoretically, if we let you do this, we could have everyone with a competing business walk in front of your store when you have a sale, advertising for their own sale. We don’t want that to happnen,” Lane said.
The council could not reach a solution on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting, so they tabled a motion to amend the code and will put it on the agenda for their next meeting.
The council also:
- took a record vote on setting the maximum 2014-15 fiscal year city tax rate at $0.5875 per $100 property valuation. The final tax rate will be voted on and adopted Sept. 16;
- unanimously approved amending the 2013-14 fiscal year budget to allow a $62,081 increase in funding for the runway extension project at the Bridgeport Municipal Airport;
- approved mosquito spraying within the city limits at night, with Councilman David Correll abstaining; and
- unanimously approved vacating a water line easement and trading 3.57 acres of property in the J.M. Kirkman survey for a separate .723 acre waterline easement.
The council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at City Hall, 1900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.