Tisbury selectmen are once again making their disdain for food trucks known. At a meeting Tuesday night, board members raised objections to a proposal by the Sawyer family to allow food trucks on property where Hinckley Hardware previously operated.
The town has allowed one food truck to operate there, much to the chagrin of the board. Selectmen relented and allowed Chef Amy Johnson to keep her food truck in January after she had been operating without the proper permits because of a town mistake.
Now with a proposal to add as many as three more food trucks, selectmen are speaking out with selectman Jim Rogers saying it will make Tisbury look “honky tonk” and hurt brick-and-mortar restaurants attempting to recover from the loss of business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would look hideous,” he said of the plan to add three more trucks.
In an email Wednesday, Robert Sawyer, who did not see the selectmen’s comments, wrote: “We think having food trucks at 61 Beach is a really nice idea. Food trucks are the rage today as it is an opportunity for small business and is a wonderful amenity for folks. We already have one food truck there and it has been great with absolutely no negative impact. Chef Amy is a very responsible operator of her food truck.”
The Sawyers are in the permitting process for a mixed-use development on the property.
When chair Melinda Loberg called it a “food court,” town administrator Jay Grande piped in calling it a “food park.”
Selectman Jeff Kristal said it demonstrates the need for the town to come up with clear guidelines for food trucks similar to those in Oak Bluffs. Kristal and the other selectmen said they don’t object when a food truck is connected to an existing restaurant, as is the case with Art Cliff Diner. He said he would rather support existing restaurants and proposals to start new restaurants in town.
The board voted unanimously to send a letter to the planning board objecting to the food truck proposal. The planning board has the issue on its agenda Wednesday night for an informal discussion.
In a somewhat related move, the board voted unanimously to give seasonal restaurants until June 30 to renew common victualer’s licenses given the ongoing issues with COVID-19.
In other news, the town made a key appointment and took a step toward filling its fire chief position, which will be vacated by John Schilling as of June 30. Schilling is retiring.
Selectmen voted unanimously to have Grande finalize an offer to Gregory Leland, the town’s deputy chief. Earlier in the meeting, the board appointed Justin Lucas as the local inspector, a position that assists building commissioner Ross Seavey. Lucas told the board he is looking forward to getting all of the proper certifications for the job.
Lucas will start the job on Wednesday. “Jumping right into the fire,” Loberg said. “Don’t forget your mask.”
The board spent most of its meeting talking about whether to bypass some articles at town meeting — once it’s held. Rogers is advocating for a quick town meeting given public health concerns, but Kristal would like the town to do as much business as possible.
With no date set for the town meeting, Grande is going to meet with department heads and report back to the board.