2017-05-05 / Community

In the Know

FOOD TRUCKS — Food trucks can now pull out of park and drive into South Portland, following a final vote May 1 to enable licensing of the mobile food units.

The 5-0 decision to adopt the enabling ordinance language allows the council to set rules of operation by special order, negating the need to go through the lengthy process of further amending city code for each subsequent change in hours and places of operation.

An order also adopted 5-0 at the May 1 meeting will allow food trucks to operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days per week at Bug Light Park and the adjoining public boat launch, at Wainwright Recreation Area and Sports Complex, and at special events, with up to two trucks at each location.

The trucks will be allowed at any city owned or controlled property as part of a city-sanctioned special event, but are banned from operating at farmers markets, and cannot set up within 500 feet of a restaurant. Except for the special events, trucks will require a planning board site plan review, as well as a $120 city license. The same rules would apply to mobile vehicles, such as ice cream trucks, although those are exempt from the 500-foot setback. The new rules would also allow food trucks on private property, although if in place for more than three days in any calendar year, the trucks would be reviewed by the planning board as a stationary vending unit subject to site plan review.

“I understand from the (city) clerk that she is already getting calls from mobile units of all kinds,” said Councilor Linda Cohen, who sponsored the code change to allow food trucks. “I think it’s so exciting for the city of South Portland to finally enjoy some of what we’ve been seeing in other communities.”

Questions were recently raised about health inspections and City Manager Scott Morelli said the trucks are subject to annual health inspections by the state.

Councilor Maxine Beecher predicted the city is well equipped to guard against that and any other issues that may arise from the new enterprise with judgment swift on those who endanger pubic safety.

“I can assure you, if there’s a problem, we’ll find it and they’ll be gone,” she said.

APPOINTMENTS — At its May 1 meeting, the city council unanimously appointed District 1 resident Jessica Williams to a new three-year term to the city’s energy and recycling committee to May 5, 2020. Williams has served on the committee since February 2013 and currently its chairman.

The council also tapped City Manager Scott Morelli to represent the city on the policy committee of the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS), with Councilor Maxine Beecher serving as alternate. “(PACTS) is a group of very important people who we often receive significant funds from,” Mayor Patti Smith said, citing the importance of having a South Portland voice at the table.

The city currently has two vacancies on the board of assessment review, one for a District 2 resident, and one for a person living in District 5. There also is one opening on the zoning board of appeals and one on the arts and historic preservation committee (both open to any city resident), and one on the energy and recycling committee (open to a resident of District 3, 4, or 5).

There also is an opening on the planning board following the resignation of Isaac Misiuk. That spot may be filled by a resident of any voting precinct except District 1.

Maps of city districts and an application form to open appointed positions are available on the city website, www.southportland.org.

SWAP SHOP — The South Portland Swap Shop, located next to the transfer station on Highland Avenue, may be open on Sundays though May, depending on volunteer participation. Opened Aug. 2, 2016, to divert tonnage from the waste stream by allowing unwanted items to be left for potential new owners, the shop is currently open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, thanks to a crew of eight volunteer attendants. However, it does not open when no volunteer oversight is available, and extra help may be needed to join in on the transfer stations expanded May hours.

“Originally we opened it with no volunteers and it started to turn into kind of a mess,” Public Works Director Doug Howard said in a May 1 report to the city council. “So far though we consider the swap shop a real success. All our shelves are full and there are people there every day.”

A list of what can and cannot be left at the swap shop is available on the city website. Anyone interested in volunteering should call 767-7635 or email publicworks@southportland.org.

COIN OPS OKAY — At its May 1 meeting the South Portland City Council unanimously approved a license for Urban Air, an indoor trampoline park located at 333 Clarks Pond Parkway, to operate eight coin-operated arcade games near its concession area.

“This is one of those old, old ordinances,” Councilor Linda Cohen said of the requirement that the city council grant its approval for the units. “It goes back to the days of pinball and the thought the machines might attract a nuisance of young people. Maybe one day we won’t have to vote on these, but for now we do.”

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