After several drafts and feedback from both community members and food truck owners, the City of Hattiesburg will present a Food Truck Ordinance for review and approval at the next Hattiesburg City Council meeting on Jan. 19.
This ordinance would set up the food truck registration and operation process, creating a standard for an innovative and growing business model in the Hattiesburg community.
Food truck operators now register under the transient vendor ordinance, which only grants mobile businesses permission for six months out of the year. Food vendor registrations are not a long-term option for food trucks seeking to work year-round.
“Food trucks enrich the quality of culture and events in Hattiesburg, and we anticipate them being a major part of our city’s culinary landscape going forward,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “I appreciate our team and so many local food truck operators who worked collaboratively to bring forward an ordinance that modernizes our city’s approach to these unique entrepreneurial efforts.”
Under the ordinance, food truck permits can be acquired through the City of Hattiesburg’s Planning Division, for an annual fee of $250. A Privilege Tax License is also required. If approved, the ordinance will be effective 30 days after adoption by City Council.
Annual renewals are due on Jan. 1. Permit fees for applications received after July 1 will have a pro-rated fee of $125. A Privilege Tax License is also required, which is a separate fee.
The required documentation to go with the permit is listed on the permit application. Staff will review the application to ensure that proposed sites meet zoning, fire, and building code requirements.
Food trucks are allowed on private property in all Business and Industrial Zones, and may locate in R-3 (Multi-Family Residential) Zones as approved by Urban Development. Written permission from the property owner must be provided prior to site approval.
Operations for special events are entirely separate from this ordinance, and locating within public right-of-way is not addressed in this ordinance and will need to be pursued under a special event permit.
Units may operate between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m, every day. Under the ordinance, food trucks must be parked on a hard surface (concrete or asphalt). Grass and gravel create an accessibility issue for customers, as well as property maintenance issues.
A generator can be used (though keep in mind the City does have a noise ordinance). Operators can also tie in existing private electrical with permission and review/permitting by the Building Inspector. Electrical work can be dangerous and can present a safety hazard if done improperly. Other utilities, such as water and sewer, must be internal to the unit.
If a food truck owner wants to operate at Hub Fest, Mobile Street Renaissance Festival, Live at Five, etc., they will need to contact the event organizer to obtain permission to vend at special events and festivals in the City. Mobile food vendors may only sell prepared food and beverages.
A food truck business can transition into a brick-and-mortar business. The Planning Division can help the operator with zoning inquiries, development questions, and be a resource through the site plan process.