City Council begins discussion to regulate food trucks, outside alcohol consumption downtown

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Discussion began at the Community Development Committee meeting regarding the regulation of mobile food truck vendors in the city of O’Fallon and outdoor alcohol consumption downtown. 

The current food transportation ordinance does not include mobile food trucks. The current policy regarding alcohol downtown does not allow alcohol outside of the restaurants without a special event permit. Both topics of discussion brought several of the downtown business owners to the council chambers. 

The growing popularity of food trucks and lack of an ordinance has required the discussion. City staff brought it to committee to receive guidance on how to put together an ordinance for their review. An ordinance would look to define food trucks, establish licensing fees and penalties. Right now, food trucks in O’Fallon are either not regulated or are in place via a special events permit. 

The downtown business owners who spoke to the committee desire to see very limited access for food trucks, or no allowance, in the downtown area. The committee and other council members in attendance repeatedly emphasized to city staff the desire to protect the city’s brick and mortar businesses that have chosen to invest in our city. The committee believes there is a balance the city can find to allow food trucks with special permits and still protect the local businesses. An ordinance will be presented at a future committee meeting for further discussion.

With the potential events generated by the opening of the O’Fallon Station, staff felt a revised alcohol policy may be needed for the downtown area. The proposed options presented to the committee after staff consultation with the Illinois State Liquor Commission were a special event liquor license with a defined area that would be barricaded during the event or the city coordinating with the downtown businesses for upcoming events so they could individually apply for a special event liquor license. 

Many of the businesses were concerned with the cost associated with purchasing a special event liquor license through the state for each event and the need to turn away patrons that would attempt to bring alcohol purchased from another establishment inside their building. 

Staff is recommending an ordinance be drafted using the option of acquiring a special event liquor license. Discussion will continue at a future community development committee meeting.