Food Trucks Discussed During First City Council Meeting of 2017

Tuesday evening marked the first City Council meeting for 2017. On the agenda was a variety of old and new business, but a discussion about food trucks dominated the night.

However, before that took place, the City Council was required to nominate two members to serve as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for the year. Mike DeVore was nominated and elected by the City Council to serve as Mayor. Alan Teelander now holds the Mayor Pro Tem position.  Both votes passed unanimously.  Minor adjustments were also made to Council Rules and Procedures, mainly offering clarification and ease of hearing public comments.

During a brief biodigester update, City Manager Mike Burns indicated he along with Lowell Light & Power General Manager Steve Donkersloot and City Attorney Dick Wendt have been meeting with representatives from LEAD.  Another meeting is anticipated this week where further discussion will be had regarding an agreement on terms involved with revoking two contracts – one between the City and LEAD and one between LL&P and LEAD.  Mr. Burns also commented on early discussions involving the city and Litehouse regarding the company’s waste removal needs. Litehouse had been sending oils and fats from their salad dressing production to the biodigester and now needs to find an alternate way to dispose that waste.

The biggest topic of the meeting was food trucks.  In the coming weeks, City Council will be researching and discussing whether food trucks should be allowed in the city.   Concern over food trucks was brought to the attention of City Manager Mike Burns by restaurateurs feeling the trucks would take away business.  New Union Brewery has had a food truck outside their business twice, which is where the issue originated.  

In his comments to the City Council, Tyler Velting, co-owner of New Union Brewery, indicated his intentions for inviting a food truck to his business was not to take away sales from local establishments.  Blair Cahoon owner of Keiser’s Kitchen spoke regarding how he feels this type of service does not belong in Lowell and will hurt his business.  Approximately seven local business owners and residents also addressed City Council in support of the trucks.  A representative from Patty Matters, the food truck outside New Union Brewery, also provided City Council with information on regulations trucks need follow.

The discussion on food trucks will continue in the coming weeks but the overall feel from the community so far favors allowing them in city limits provided they are kept in check.  Discussion and debate will continue as the city researches the topic and provides more information.  If you’re interested in taking a short poll on food trucks, we’re looking for opinions.  

City Manager Mike Burns also invited and encouraged community residents to attend a presentation by the Michigan Municipal League on Thursday, January 12 at 6pm at the Lowell High School Performing Arts Center.  The session will cover the topic of a broken municipal financial system.  Information on how local governments have had to deal with revenue cuts will be presented.  The Lowell City’s Facebook page shared a link to this article which explains what cities in Michigan face.  

The next City Council meeting is at 7pm at City Hall on Tuesday, January 17.  A special joint meeting between City Council and Lowell Light & Power will be announced in the near future for further discussion on the biodigester.  

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