What are the rules in Collinsville for food trucks and snow-cone stands?

News-DemocratJune 9, 2014 

Food trucks, carnivals and seasonal stands will have to meet new standards in Collinsville, though some are still prohibited by county regulations.

The ordinance approved Monday by the Collinsville City Council amended the zoning code to set down regulations for seasonal outdoor businesses such as snow-cone stands, as well as mobile food trucks. It also stiffened requirements for carnivals in the city.

At the moment, the city only permits one snow-cone stand, according to community development director Mitch Bair. "This levels that playing field so that if others wanted to open a seasonal stand on someone else's property, you can do that," he said.

Bair said businesses selling edible goods from a non-stationary location -- as in food trucks -- would be regulated under the ordinance as well. But at the moment, food trucks are not permitted by the Madison County Health Department, he said.

Health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager said food trucks are permitted to operate in the county with a permit, as long as they are part of a temporary event, such as a festival or fair. Food trucks are not permitted to roll into town and begin selling to the public without being part of an event, she said.

Part of Collinsville is in St. Clair County, however, where food trucks are permitted under certain guidelines.

Sharon Valentine, St. Clair County environmental health manager, said all mobile food units have to meet the same basic guidelines for any other establishment. They must have a commissary -- a home base location, with the proper refrigeration and cleaning facilities to meet health standards.

Then they can operate in St. Clair County -- unless the various cities have an ordinance against it. Valentine said some municipalities restrict food trucks to festivals just like Madison County, while others allow them to set up on parking lots as they wish.

In St. Louis, food trucks have proliferated, with websites that track their movements and a variety of food ranging from Greek gyros to Korean tacos to Louisiana Cajun food to cakes and baked goods.

The St. Louis Food Truck Association registers at least 33 food trucks wandering the city daily, including Andrew's Bayou Ribs, Vincent Van Doughnut, Sarah's Cake Stop and Holy Crepe.

Bair said the city's inclusion of the food trucks was "proactive," if and when the Madison County Health Department allows them to operate. "Everything we've heard is they don't have any intention of (allowing food trucks) yet," Bair said.

The new requirements for carnivals were spurred by the arrival of a carnival that set up on a parking lot in north Collinsville last month. It was there for about 10 days, but under the old ordinance, the carnival could have stayed for 21 days, Bair said. No permits were required beyond the permission of the property owner.

Under the new ordinance, carnivals' time is limited to 14 days and the carnivals must coordinate with the city's police and fire departments.

Bair said they did not have any problems with the carnival, but some other towns have had significant problems, including riot-like fights. Some municipalities require carnivals to hire off-duty police officers for the event, though Collinsville's new ordinance will only require them to coordinate with the Collinsville Police Department.

Carnivals are inspected by the state and receive an annual permit through the Illinois Department of Labor, Bair said, but until now did not need any permits or inspections from the city.

The council's vote was unanimous.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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