Food Truck Ordinance Up For Review by Council

Food Truck Ordinance Up For Review by Council

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – 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 January 19.

This ordinance formalizes the food truck registration and operation process, creating a go-to standard for an innovative and growing business model in the Hattiesburg community.

Currently, food truck operators register under the transient vendor ordinance, which only grants permission for mobile businesses for six months out of the year. Built for seasonal businesses, it wasn’t 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,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “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.

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Food Truck Ordinance
Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Hattiesburg need a Food Truck Ordinance?
In the past, food trucks have operated under the “Transient Vendor Ordinance,” which only granted permission for mobile businesses to operate for six months out of the year. While this is good for seasonal businesses, it was a temporary solution for food trucks who sought to work year-round in the City. The Food Truck Ordinance establishes a more standard protocol for operating a food truck inside the city on an annual basis and is patterned after best practices throughout the country.

What is the cost of a mobile food vending permit?
There is an annual permit fee of $250. Annual renewals are due on January 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.

How can a food truck owner apply for a mobile food vending permit?
Permits may be applied for with the City of Hattiesburg’s Planning Division. 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.

Where will food trucks be allowed to park?
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.

When will food trucks be allowed to operate?
Units may operate between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m, every day.

Can food trucks park on gravel or grassy lots?
No. 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.

Can food trucks be used as a drive-thru?
No. This is dangerous both in practice and in the way drive-thrus affect traffic flow around the site.

Can food trucks use generators?
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., will anything additional be required outside of a food truck permit?
Yes. You will need to contact the event organizer to obtain permission to vend at special events and festivals in the City.

Why does the City have to review parking plans for a food truck before operating in a certain space?
The City has to ensure that the food truck is located in a place on the site that ensures adequate access for customers (including ADA access), is not impeding emergency responders, is not altering traffic circulation, and maintains other Land Development Code standards.

Can food truck operators place tables and chairs for use by customers?
Unless located in an approved food truck park, customer seating is not allowed.

Are flags and banners allowed where the food truck is parked?
Sandwich boards must be removed each day and cannot impede pedestrian or vehicle access. Temporary banners are allowed but are required to be mounted on a structure but have a limited timeframe. “Yard signs” are also allowed with restrictions. Flag signs and pennants or any other signage that employs movement is prohibited in the City of Hattiesburg.

If a food truck sells food but also wants to sell retail items like clothing or beauty products – is this allowed?
Mobile food vendors may only sell prepared food and beverages.

How will food trucks dispose of grease?
Grease and wastewater must be properly disposed of. Prior to the issuance of a permit, the food truck operator will need to provide a disposal plan as a part of the application process for review.

Can a food truck business transition into a brick-and-mortar business?
Yes. The Planning Division can help the operator with zoning inquiries, development questions, and be a resource through the site plan process.