Supervisors approve mobile food unit proposal

Text amendment gives hot dog stands, taco trucks leeway to operate

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors approved an action Wednesday that will give mobile food units more leeway to operate. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors approved an action Wednesday that will give mobile food units more leeway to operate. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

COTTONWOOD – Wednesday, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the text amendment to the zoning ordinance and to add language regarding the allowance of mobile food units in Yavapai County.

Yavapai County Development Services Planner Kristy Kennedy provided a detailed presentation of the item, including its journey through three previous Planning and Zoning hearings.

Before she was able to finish, Supervisors made a motion, seconded it, and approved the mobile food truck proposal.

Getting ready for P&Z

According to a memorandum dated Dec. 12, 2016, Yavapai County Development Services staff received multiple inquiries from customers regarding the ability to have mobile food vending on various residential and commercial properties.

The County Zoning Code currently does not allow for mobile food units, i.e. hot dog cart, outdoor of a hardware store, the memorandum stated.

“It has been Yavapai County Development Services policy that the use of a mobile food unit is required to obtain a use permit since it is a temporary/mobile use and not considered a permanent structure as well as not being listed as an allowed primary or accessory use in the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Ordinance,” stated the memorandum.

Developmental Services said in their findings, mobile food units are not addressed in the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Ordinance.

“The only existing option for this use in the unincorporated areas of Yavapai County is to go through the full public hearing process and apply for a use permit,” stated the memorandum.

To help clarify the proposed amendment, the use of a mobile food unit would not qualify as a primary use on a commercial zoned property due to being temporary in nature unless significant modifications were made to change the unit to a permanent structure, the memorandum stated.

“There seems to be a higher frequency of this request to be alongside an existing commercial use, such as a dollar or hardware retail store wanting to provide the additional service of a mobile food unit on-site to their patrons. This Zoning Ordinance Amendment is a proposal to allow one mobile food unit as an “accessory use” to an existing primary commercial use on commercially zoned property,” the memorandum continued.

Additions and amendments

Jan. 5, the Planning and Zoning Commission heard the ordinance amendment for a second time and recommended approval of Zoning Ordinance Amendment HA#H16087 by a vote of 6 to 2.

Additions to Section 301 (Definitions) include:

The proposed definition of a mobile food unit is “a vehicle-mounted food establishment designated to be readily movable from which food is composed, compounded, processed or prepared and from which food is vended sold or given away. This term includes self-propelled kitchens an trailer mounted kitchens.”

The proposed definition of a commissary is “a base of operations for all mobile food units, pushcarts, and food peddlers selling potentially hazardous foods.”

The addition to Section 420 C1 District (Commercial; Neighborhood Sales and Services) include:

A mobile food unit as defined in Section 301 (Definitions) as an accessory use shall be permitted to subject to performance criteria set out in Section 556 (mobile food units – commercial) and meeting gall applicable codes and ordinances.

The addition of a new section to Chapter 5 (General Provisions), Section 556 (Mobile Food Units-Commercial) requires that all mobile food units be subjected to the following standards:

One mobile food unit is allowed to operate on private property of an existing operating business.

Must either be located adjacent to the principal structure or within the confines of the parking lot of the existing business.

Alcohol or marijuana sales are prohibited from any mobile food unit.

All mobile food units to obtain Fire Department, Environmental Health and Environmental Services Department approvals prior to operating on-site.

Shall not operate within the public right-of-way and shall not impede visibility for traffic safety.

Shall not utilize any parking spaces required by the existing business and shall not impede vehicular circulation or site visibility within the parking area of that business.

Signs shall be an integral part of the mobile food unit. *Additional free standing signage shall be prohibited, for example A-frames, banners, sidewalk signs, flags, etc.

Shall maintain a clearly marked trash container at the mobile food unit location for refuse disposal and keep area clean from all litter and debris. Use of public trash receptacles for this purpose is prohibited. 

No overnight camping or storage of Mobile Food Unit allowed on site.

*Reflects a comment that staff received from the Commission at their first hearing. Staff proposed deleting language that pertained to certain sign restrictions, such as signs that rotate, spin, flash, etc.

Addressing concerns

After discussion, the Commission expressed the following concerns with the mobile food unit proposal:

YCDS (Yavapai County Development Services) be included in the Health Department permit process

Separation between the mobile food unit and a permanent restaurant

Confusing and wordy definitions

Overly restrictive on signage

Development Services addressed the concerns.

“Staff continues to work alongside and partner with other county departments, specifically the Yavapai County Health Department. Staff is utilize the same terminology to assist the public’s understanding and did not want to conflict with another county definition or process, in effort to remain consistent between our Zoning Ordinance and with the health department’s existing definitions,” stated a memorandum dated Jan. 10.

The County Health Department commented, “This matches our definitions and the proposed new section looks good. We have no concerns.”

Staff also checked with other counties in Arizona, the memorandum stated, and whether they require separation between mobile food units and stationary/permanent restaurants. Yuma, Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Coconino Counties don’t have a separate requirement

“Currently, the Yavapai County Zoning Ordinance does not a have a separation requirement between one particular “business” and another, specially a restaurant to another similar restaurant that is allowed in the same zoning district,” stated the memorandum.

The motion passed by a vote of 6 to 2, and the item’s next and final stop was at Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

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