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Today in City Hall: Council to vote on Trico

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

Today the Common Council will meet at 2 p.m. and will vote on whether a massive former windshield wiper factory at Washington and Goodell streets should be designated a local landmark. The decision could play a key role in determining whether the structure, which housed the Trico factory, is demolished or remains. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which holds exclusive development rights to the property, is against the landmark designation, saying it would inhibit what can be done on the property, while preservationists say it can be re-used. 

Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen - whose vote is key because he represents the area - yesterday did not say how he would vote on the designation. 

The Council will also pass a resolution calling on the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to grant development rights for the Outer Harbor to a group that is interested in building a 72,000-seat football stadium, museum, and convention center. The NFTA said it will not do that. 

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Audio: Onward with food truck rules in Buffalo

Proposed food truck rules are now in the hands of Mayor Byron W. Brown.

As I reported Tuesday, the Common Council passed a set of food truck rules, which must be signed by the mayor.

Once the City Clerk's Office certifies the results of the Council vote, the paperwork is forwarded to the mayor's office. The mayor would likely receive the documents Monday, Assisstant Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball said.

The mayor has 10 days in which he can sign the legislation into law, veto it or do nothing, and then it would become law after 10 days. If the measure is signed into law, it would take effect immediately.

One part of the matter that remained unresolved Tuesday was whether the any newly issued food truck licenses would be good until April 2013, or whether a license -- valid until April 1 of this year -- would be issued with a prorated fee.

After the passage, Peter V. Cimino told me Lloyd the taco truck will be growing, including adding a truck and employees.

Listen to part of our conversation:

South Council Member Michael P. Kearns placed the only vote against the proposed rules. He offered his own version, available here. The only changes he offered were lowering the fee from $1,000 to $395, as well as limiting the number of operating food trucks to one mobile vendor per city block.

Here's Kearns talking about the issue during Tuesday's Common Council meeting:

The bill sponsor, North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., spoke immediately after Kearns. Here's some of what he had to say:

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

Fee stays same, tweaks made to proposed food truck law

Customers visit The Whole Hog food truck last summer in downtown Buffalo. (Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)

A revised set of proposed rules for food trucks in the City of Buffalo has been unveiled with no change to the proposed $1,000 annual license fee.

Council President Richard A. Fontana, Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera and South Council Member Michael P. Kearns each said this week they'd like to see a lower proposed fee.

However, North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., the bill sponsor, said even though those three lawmakers have talked to him about it, he believes the proposal of $1,000 is fair.

"If you can afford $80,000 for a truck, I don't think a $1,000 fee is too excessive," Golombek said today.

Rivera said he initially took the position of having a lower fee because he wanted the city's fee to be more in line with the fees in other cities roughly the size of Buffalo, but there have been compromises as the law has developed and he will not push for a lower fee.

"If food trucks are willing to live with it, that's fine," Rivera said today.

When asked today whether the group was willing to accept the size of the fee, Mitchell M. Stenger, attorney for the Western New York Food Truck Association, said he was in the midst of canvassing his members.

As The Buffalo News reported last week, changes were already planned to the draft regulations. The amendments that have been proposed -- all of which were suggested by a group of food truck owners -- are:

--Distance: Food trucks must stay at least 100 feet from "the nearest edge of any building or section of a building comprising a licensed food establishment, excluding any patio, awning or temporary enclosure attached thereto..." where there is an open kitchen.

The previous version of the proposed rules called for a 100-foot buffer between a food truck and the property line of a restaurant with an open kitchen.

--Garbage cans: Removing a requirement for two, 65-gallon garbage cans and replacing it with the mandate that food trucks "must be equipped with trash receptacles of a sufficient capacity that shall be changed as necessary to prevent overflow or the creation of litter or debris."

--Hearing: Any food truck cited for its third violation would still be subject to an order to close immediately. However, the newest version of the proposed rules would allow the food truck to remain in operation until a hearing is held and a determination is made by the city.

Police or the Department of Permits and Inspections would still be able to force a a food truck to stop operating at a location if a blatant violation if found and its the third offense, but it wouldn't be an indefinite closure subject to a hearing, Golombek said.

Under the law, a hearing would be required within 60 days.

Golombek said he would have preferred a smaller time frame for the hearing, but he has been told by City License Director Patrick Sole Jr. that a hearing could not be guaranteed within the a shorter window if less than 60 days was required.

The previous version of the rules did not allow the food truck to remain in operation once it was shut down and a hearing was needed.

Golombek said that while the existing food truck operators generally have been "pretty good" at following the rules, he wants rules in place in case the next round of operators aren't as complaint.

"I'm concerned about he next level of food trucks," Golombek said. "...I want to make sure that they're as good as these guys are now."

Read the new rules here. And here are some video clips of the debate on food trucks in Common Council Chambers last week.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

Video: Food truck debate in City Hall

Update: 12:44 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5

Here's some audio from Roaming Buffalo's Chris Taylor:

4:50 p.m. Jan 4: As a vote nears on proposed food truck regulations, here's a glimpse of what people were saying inside Common Council chambers in City Hall today:

Mitchell M. Stenger, attorney for Western New York Food Truck Association

Michael H. Kooshoian, attorney for Entrepreneurs for a Better Buffalo

Ronald A. Lucchino, president of Elmwood Taco & Subs

North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr.

John Fusco, owner of Zetti's Pizza & Pasta

Stay tuned. I'll be adding more video clips. That's all the clips for now. Enjoy.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

City considering regulations friendly to food trucks

Renee Allen
R&R BBQ serves customers in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park earlier this year. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Draft regulations for food trucks, expected to be circulated internally among city lawmakers this week, include several proposals called for by food truck operators.

A template for proposed rules for mobile food vending in the city is being drafted, and Common Council members will be able to have input before an official proposal comes before the entire body for a vote, North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. said.

Golombek called the draft measure a "fair compromise" that combines the best aspects of the proposals from each side in the debate.

"This is not the final law that's going to be going in front of the Council," he said during Tuesday's Council meeting in City Hall.

Golombek said the initial draft that lawmakers will review will include the requirement of a 100-foot buffer between an operating food truck and an existing restaurant.

The initial proposal will also include a "three strikes and you're out" provision, which would see a food truck permit revoked after the third violation.

"I would like to be very hard on these guys," Golombek told me today, noting that most of the food trucks have followed a set of self-imposed rules.

Here's what Golombek had to say about the issue at Tuesday's Council meeting:

Golombek said the initial proposal would call for a permit fee of more than $1,000, which would cover a 15-month period.

Both the Western New York Food Truck Association and Entrepreneurs for a Better Buffalo submitted proposals for food truck rules, after a committee of all parties failed to reach a compromise.

The proposal from Entrepreneurs for a Better Buffalo, a group representing some brick-and-mortar restaurants, was criticized by the food truck group as "protectionist."

Golombek said he does not like the proposal for special vending districts around Elmwood and Hertel avenues, that was suggested by the Entrepreneurs for a Better Buffalo.

The proposal for city rules would not cover the downtown business district, which would continue to fall under rules established by Buffalo Place, Golombek said.

The lawmaker said he'd like to see the trucks in his neighborhood.

"If I knew they were coming down my street at 5 o'clock," he said, "maybe I wouldn't make dinner tonight."

Read the Food Truck Association's proposal here, and the brick-and-mortar group's here.

City lawmakers tabled a set of regulations in July.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN


About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |