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Street vendor regulations causing heartburn

A lack of clarity about the city of Wilmington’s rules regarding food trucks continues to plague one local business.

And with two other food trucks up and running and at least two more set to hit the streets soon, the confusion may continue.

Poor Piggy’s BBQ & Catering ran into problems last week when city officials told owner Ed Coulbourn III he was not operating on the specific parcel for which he had received a temporary-use permit. He had set up on the adjacent property, which offered more room and visibility. Both belonged to Re/Max Essential on Military Cutoff Road.

The permitting process seems to be the root of the misunderstandings that have arisen since food trucks first hit the local streets in August.

Wilmington zoning regulations do not directly address food trucks, said John Fullerton, the city’s zoning administrator. But those that set up in one location within city limits for more than “one or two hours” at a time need a temporary-use permit in addition to the property owner’s permission and privilege license required for such businesses to operate, he said.

Food truck owners said they’d heard time limits of 30 minutes and 40 minutes from zoning officials during various conversations throughout the process of setting up their businesses.

Fullerton said the time limit in the code is 45 minutes, but zoning officials have been writing one hour on food truck applications.

But if a food truck is going to a different location every day, the duration should not pose an issue, he added.

“There’s no one enforcing that hour,” Fullerton said. “We don’t have enough code officers.”