Board gives the green light to food trucks in Dare County

By on March 20, 2018

After a unanimous vote by the Board of Commissioners Monday night, food trucks will soon be allowed to operate in unincorporated Dare County.

Commissioners heard from six speakers at a public hearing, including restaurant owners Ervin Bateman from Sugar Creek, Eric Reese, co-owner of the Outer Banks Brewing Station and Toby Gonzalez of Ten O Six, all of whom endorsed the proposal.

Residents from Hatteras Island also spoke in favor of the idea, including Kelly Macchio, who described the restaurant scene in Frisco after the tourist season as a “desert.”

The change allowing “Food stands and Mobile Food Units” was sparked by a request from Brent Johnson, the owner of a new indoor trampoline park in Manteo that is scheduled to open before the summer tourist season.

In an interview with the Voice earlier this month, Johnson said he had asked the county for permission to allow food trucks to operate on his property during business hours, which he felt would allow him to focus on the trampolines while local restaurants could provide food.

Johnson was the first to speak and provided commissioners with data supporting the economic value of food trucks while noting they boosted sales and openings of brick-and-mortar restaurants in cities where they are allowed.

All three restaurant owners embraced the idea and told the commissioners they did not see food trucks, if properly regulated, as a threat to their business. Reese said the added competition would force existing restaurants to “step up their game” and allow his business to expand into other parts of the county.

Bateman and Gonzalez echoed Reese’s comments. Bateman said he would like to bring Sugar Creek’s offerings to Hatteras Island with a food truck.

The new ruling applies only to unincorporated areas of Dare County, so we won’t be seeing food trucks operating in any of Dare’s six municipalities, with the exception of special permits for operations at events such as outdoor fairs, concerts and the like.

Food trucks will also need to adhere to a number of county and health department rules.

The trucks can operate only in the parking lots of existing commercial-use buildings, which prohibits them from selling food at parks, vacant lots, along roadsides or beach accesses.

At present, only one food truck at a time may operate on any permitted property, although commissioners hinted they may revisit that regulation in the future with a limitation based on the size of the parcel or a formula setting a maximum number of parking spaces for food trucks.

Operators must receive approval from Dare County Planning Department, and they must file a route plan informing the county of where and when they plan to operate each day.

Each truck must be affiliated with a local restaurant or a commissary, or operate as a self-contained commissary.

In the world of food-truck regulation, a commissary is a place where food service companies prepare and store food and therefore are subject to the same health department regulations that govern “back room” food preparation and storage at restaurants and catering outlets.

The food trucks themselves will also be subject to the same state and local health department rules and regulations as restaurants for cooking and serving their offerings.

Planning Director Donna Creef told the board she will be ready to approve the first applications within two weeks of receipt and it appears that many restaurants that already own trucks and trailers might be in a position to sign up immediately.

In other business, the board voted to enter into a two-year $83,130 contract to use the Google G-Suite services, an increase of $4,500 over the planned budget amount in the 2019 fiscal year.

Several candidates for the upcoming primaries and general elections introduced themselves during public comments, including Republican Ann Petera and Democrat Ervin Bateman, who are both seeking the at-large seat on the Dare Board of Commissioners.

Petera must first defeat Ed Danko in the May GOP primary, while Bateman is unopposed and will face the Republican winner in November.

Rosemarie Doshier, a Democrat who will face incumbent Republican Jim Tobin in November for the BOC District 1 seat, also introduced herself, along with another Democrat, Jen Alexander, who is running against Republican Jim Tauber for the District 2 Board of Education seat.

Cindy Harris also presented the board with a petition signed by 90 other senior citizens asking the county to move the annual Angel Gift Christmas program from the Baum Center to another facility, saying the program causes much of the Baum Center to be closed for several days during the holiday season.

Board Chairman Bob Woodard described the Dare delegation’s trip to Washington, D.C. along with 180 other commissioners and managers from across North Carolina. Woodard said they were heard by congressional members and also met with top officials from various cabinet offices, as well as Vice President Pence.

Woodard said he provided comments to officials opposing offshore drilling, while Vice Chairman Wally Overman addressed funding needs for northeastern North Carolina if President Trump’s infrastructure funding requests are included in the budget.

Overman’s wish list included funding for jetties at Oregon Inlet, naming all of Hatteras Inlet as a federal inlet — an expansion of the current federal designation, which covers only the ferry channel — a replacement for the Alligator River bridge, including widening U.S. 64 from East Lake to Columbia to four lanes, as well as major funding for detox facilities, opioid epidemic remediation, and other funding to deal with the growing substance-abuse problems in northeastern North Carolina.

A community meeting followed the board meeting with citizens expressing oft-repeated concerns over the affordable/workforce housing situation as well as problems along NCDOT-maintained highways, including fading lane and other markings along U.S. 158 and the continuing pedestrian issues at the Little Bridge along the Nags Head causeway.

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  • OBX Resident

    In the world of democrats and republicans, I try to look beyond these labels. With this stated a long time ago, I worked with Ervin Bateman in the restaurant business. He is an unpretentious man.
    He is your small business owner, and one that cares about the community. He is also one that has experienced his fair share of adversity that come with running a restaurant and life. He is not just another candidate that matches the monotonous make up of the current board. He understands the Outer Banks restaurant business, the fishing industry, tourism, the importance of education and the impacts of all these on Outer Bankers. More importantly he understands the impacts of substance abuse and is working to identify solutions and work with others to improve our community. This election, I ask that Republicans look beyond party labels and provide Ervin with your vote. We need more people like Ervin on the Board. If you need another reason to vote for him take a look at this video: . Ervin will serve the Outer Banks well, better than just another retired individual that moved here a few years ago.

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 11:03 am
  • Brick and Mortor stores

    I bet if this was introduced to Nagshead everyone wouldn’t be so pumped about it. As a business owner down in Avon that pays rent and insurance year round, y’all are making it harder and harder for us to make a living when a truck can pull up, under cut our prices being they have no over head and drive home in October after the busy season and call it a day and not sink another dollar into the “business”. I have friends with businesses in Carolla who are barley getting by because of the on the side of the road vendors, after the power outage and hurricanes, y’all are going to see local businesses disappearing in the next few years, so thanks to those that voted for it, I hope when it comes time for the incorporated towns to be voted on y’all vote the same way.

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 11:17 am
  • obx karlitos

    Well this is great! As usual, Outer Banks is about 5 years behind the times… But still progress is progress.

    Someone really should proof read these articles…

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 1:08 pm
  • Stephen

    Have there been any studies or testimony regarding how these food trucks’ patrons often generate a lot of trash?

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 1:24 pm
  • KG F.

    Net/net – there’s more to be covered in this story. The cities and towns (Nags Head, KDH, Avon, Rodanthe, etc.) have the final say (I believe) on business and food service activities in their respective municipalities. Am I wrong? So the real question is; Which of these cities/towns is on board with the permitting of food trucks and/or food trailers in existing commercial parking lots etc. I think there’s more to this story. With that said, a good food truck or food trailer operation can add a lot of foot traffic to an existing retail store (examples: furniture stores, antique stores, thrift shops, bait and tackle shops, gift shops),…especially if these food trucks/trailers operate during the off-season months when many restaurants had closed down for the winter.

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 4:16 pm
  • Really?

    I see the good ole boy network is alive and well. How is this any different than the guy a few years back(covered by OBV) who was trying to sell seafood on the side of the road? He wanted to sell seafood and people reacted like the sky was falling. Same reasons can be used just remove seafood truck and insert roach coach or food truck. “would like to bring sugar creeks offerings to Hatteras Island ” well then go down there and make the capital expenditures and take some risk like the rest of the business owners down there. Sounds like someone is all about just making money and then cut and run. Does TL’s not sell food right next door? Same greedy people just trying to walk all over their business neighbor.

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 5:13 pm
  • Anonymous

    Is absolutely correct! OBV covered story about someone who wanted to sell seafood on the side of the road, and that person was shot down immediately! At the time, I was rooting for that person who wanted to sell seafood on the side of the road. Now, considering all the traffic, and knowing what it takes to start a brick and mortar business in Dare County I am avidly against this proposition. It is so difficult for people starting a new business. The kind of overhead that a brick-and-mortar restaurant has is extraordinary. The leases in Dare County alone are exorbitant! And in insurance, utilities, and labor force, and their business might not be in the black until after to stab list for a couple years. As someone else already said someone running a food truck would only have to invest in a vehicle and the days supplies. There are already open storefronts all over the Outer Banks. If this passes you’re going to see a hell of a lot more!

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 9:29 pm
  • Brick and mortor

    Really, I agree with you buddy they act like they are going to be down there in October – March when we all know the truth, and to the thunder cat up top saying how we are 5 years behind everyone else, it’s funny all you people move here to get away from the north and it’s great ideas like the roach coach and then want to turn Dare county into the place you just moved from, I say if they can do this to me I should be able to set up down the street from sugar shack and sell fried seafood and what ever else Bateman offers, it’s only right, why should hatteras and Carolla be the only places effected to road side sellers, why should anyone take the risk and rent a spot and work hard to outfit it and have their prices match, to be undercut by a guy in a truck, you get the same skin in the game we all have be legitimate competition rent a store front and I’m all for it, I hope no one in roadanthe and Avon give these people permission to set up.

    Wednesday, Mar 21 @ 7:28 am
  • Brick and mortor

    Would have been nice to hear about this meeting too, as a business owner I heard nothing about it, to boot, not having these guys around is what makes hatteras such an awesome place, but now we’re just going to junk it up.

    Wednesday, Mar 21 @ 7:33 am
  • jackie harris

    I fully support Cindy Harris from the Baum Center in her request. There is no reason that the Angel Tree program could not use the Dare Facility for Youth Activity located in KDH for 3-4 days with PROPER scheduling!. Since the youth of Dare are receiving the benefits of the Angel Tree Program they should be willing to give up a few days of Play activity!. The Older adults that use the Baum Center that look forward to the interaction with there fellow citizen’s! And less face it the Baum Center is the ONLY Game in Town for a Senior!.

    Wednesday, Mar 21 @ 10:50 am
  • burp

    Here’s my guess on Hatteras Island. Food trucks will only be around during the summer and will feature such healthy delights as bacon covered donuts, deep fat fried hot dogs, fried butter on a stick and the lowest quality fast food at the highest possible price. All bad food, three months out of the year. Watch. This is a no brainer

    Thursday, Mar 22 @ 3:14 pm
  • Salvo Jimmy

    There has been the equivalent of a food truck on Hatteras Island for at least several years. The taco trailer in the Sting Wray parking lot in Rodanthe.

    BTW food is good.

    Saturday, Mar 24 @ 10:05 am
  • Obxer

    Yall are all crazy. There is resturants and food trucks with nasty food Ive had . I’ve had some of my best foods is some food trucks and resturants. Most of the reaturants here sell the same thing. Seafood steaks and chicken. Nothing special there. If I wanted to start a food truck. I want to start a food truck. I don’t want greedy resturant owning people to stop me…. LOOK HOW SEAVIEW SEAFOOD GOT STARTED IN WILMINGTON. They started on the side of the road selling crabs now they have 3 locations in 10 years of business.

    Sunday, Mar 25 @ 8:00 am
  • Beacyone

    If everyone had voted for zoning this would not be an issue. Remember that, business owners.

    Sunday, Mar 25 @ 1:34 pm