Orange Park council ponders state bills, food trucks

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/5/22

ORANGE PARK— When the state Legislature convenes in Tallahassee, municipalities keep their eyes peeled for bills that may affect them.

At Tuesday night’s Orange Park Town Council meeting, …

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Orange Park council ponders state bills, food trucks

Posted

ORANGE PARK— When the state Legislature convenes in Tallahassee, municipalities keep their eyes peeled for bills that may affect them.

At Tuesday night’s Orange Park Town Council meeting, council members were briefed by Town Manager Sarah Campbell about upcoming bills. The session begins Jan. 11.

Before she got started, Mayor Randy Anderson joked Town Attorney Sam Garrison, Clay County’s state representative, could weigh in.

Campbell said House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 224, which could ease restrictions on municipalities’ ability to control smoking in public areas.

“This would allow us to restrict smoking in parks, which some people have asked about specifically, like for Kids Fest or the playground itself at Clarke Park,” Campbell said.

A major concern is a bill targeting how local governments pass ordinances, Campbell said. Senate Bill 280 would require governments to prepare a business impact statement for every ordinance passed. Another bill would also allow residents to appeal ordinances and prevent enforcement of the ordinances until a court can hear it.

“Every ordinance is a lot,” she said of Senate Bill 280. “That means every rezoning ordinance, budget ordinance, anything you adopt by ordinance this would apply to.”

Bills will also address tree pruning on residential property, Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity, vacation rentals and red-light camera ticketing programs. When it comes to elections, House Bill 301 and Senate 510 could require local officials to submit more thorough financial disclosures if passed.

“The Legislature submits a more robust financial disclosure form, so this would require municipal officers a more robust financial disclosure form,” Campbell said.

In other business, food truck regulations were addressed by council members, who gave direction to keep it largely the same, save for an amendment allowing for one-day special use permits in residential areas for food trucks. The amendment will be presented to council members at a future meeting.

The ordinance specifies where food trucks can be, their hours of operation within the town, proper waste disposal and licensing and permitting. Council members heard from King’s Tacos’ Ashwin Mendez. He asked for a change to a town ordinance that requires food trucks to relocate after 10 p.m. from public areas in the town.

“We don’t want to have to move from Orange Park because we like it here,” Mendez said.

Vice-Mayor Eddie Henley felt the town wasn’t inundated with food trucks. He questioned why Mendez couldn’t leave the truck overnight if a property owner said it was OK.

“There’s not a whole lot of places left,” Henley said.

Resident Frank Ricketts had an issue with mobile businesses in a permanent location, where brick-and-mortar businesses have to pay utilities. He also mentioned food being prepared in residential areas.

Council members supported food trucks operating within the town ordinances and during events, and they called for tougher enforcement of violators. Council Member John Hauber said he didn’t want the town to be flooded with food trucks. Anderson added there are rules not being followed when it comes to code enforcement for food trucks.

“I see an issue here,” Anderson said.

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