No food trucks for new W.T. events

A public hearing about food truck regulations is planned for July.

West Tisbury will not allow food trucks at events that have not historically had them, with a few exceptions. — Randi Baird

The West Tisbury select board decided by consensus it will not be entertaining food trucks at events that have not historically had them until regulations for these vendors have been established. 

This consensus was reached based on the request of World Market Monday to have a food truck at its weekly event during the summer. According to board chair Cynthia Mitchell, the market has had “weekly sales for years at the Grange.” Under normal circumstances, West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand would sign off on this event “as a matter of routine” but the request to have a food truck changes the decision. 

“What I told them was, I thought, because they have never had food trucks at their events, that they were unlikely to get a food truck this year, because we’re in a bit of a holding pattern,” Rand said. The market itself has been approved to operate during the summer, but the question comes down to whether a food truck would be allowed. 

Food trucks have become a hot issue for West Tisbury, with multiple instances of event promoters and food truck operators appealing application denials from zoning inspector Joseph Tierney to the zoning board of appeals. The select board met twice with the planning board and zoning board of appeals, and once with town counsel, to figure out the best way to approach West Tisbury’s food truck regulations. 

Mitchell said new regulations would not be adopted without public input. 

“We should hit the hold button until we have our regulations in place,” select board member Skipper Manter said. Fellow board member Jessica Miller agreed.

Mitchell also agreed, saying, “We will not entertain a request for a food truck.”

When asked by Manter whether this should be a general statement until the regulations are in place, Mitchell replied, “I would say yes, that’s true. Although we have named exceptions already, and if another, similar situation arises, we may make an exception for past practice,” Mitchell said. 

Rand said there should be a distinction between events that would regularly have a food truck, like the market, and onetime events. 

The select board also took some time to review the touched-up food truck regulations. Tisbury’s food truck regulations were used as the base format, with additions from Wellfleet’s regulations, alongside suggestions from the board members. The board will review its version of food truck regulations for West Tisbury one more time before a public hearing, which they plan to have on July 13. 

In other business, the select board voted 2-1 to award the World Market Monday an event permit and a beer and wine permit for a fundraiser on Monday, August 8, from 5 to 8 pm at the Grange Hall. Manter was the sole dissenting vote on the beer and wine permit, citing that zoning regulations did not allow for retail sales in the village district.

“The state has given us the clear understanding a one-day beer and wine license is an acceptable departure for a day for sales of beer and wine,” Rand said.

“The people adopted zoning, and I think we should follow their wishes,” Manter replied.

“Just throwing it out there,” Rand responded. 

The select board unanimously approved accepting a $65,000 donation from the West Tisbury Library Foundation. The donation can only be used for expenditures relating to West Tisbury Free Public Library, such as book purchases or staff training. 

The select board unanimously approved Rand’s request to purchase a Facebook portal that originally belonged to the Up-Island Council on Aging for $150. 

The select board plans to conduct interviews for the West Tisbury animal control officer position on June 29.

Hermine Hull, a columnist for The Times, was unanimously appointed by the select board to the West Tisbury board of registrars. She will be replacing the former board of registrars member Rufus Peebles, who has served since 1984, and whose term is finished. However, Hull is not the only one to have an appointment. A plethora of other individuals, from Leon Brathwaite to a one-year term on the cable TV advisory board to a five-year term on the zoning board of appeals for Julius Lowe, were unanimously appointed by the select board. 

The next select board meeting will be held in person at Howes House in West Tisbury at 4 pm. This will be the first in-person select board meeting since transitioning to Zoom. This meeting will be a joint meeting with the select boards of Chilmark and Aquinnah about work that needs to be done on Howes House. 


  1. Another discussion about food trucks? Why wasn’t the issue of regulations settled before the summer season? I have bought delicious food many times from Goldie’s Rotisserie and they are lovely people who work so hard! Why make it so difficult for vendors like them to start up and run a business here on Island? I would think they would be encouraged and welcome. It was great to be able to pick up delicious food over the winter and spring from Goldie’s, especially when many places are closed.

  2. Lame. With congestion everywhere on the Vineyard the progressive thinking idea would be to encourage and support food trucks at locations around the island
    that work for the community. Clamping down on progress is a sure fire way to say to taxpayers and visitors the Town Board’s are just at it again and thinking for themselves and not considering what’s good for the community at large. With the economy in recession and fuel prices at record highs the working class on the Vineyard need a break wherever they can find one and eating from a food truck offers an affordable meal to the high priced restaurants on the Island that cater to the wealthy.

    • With fuel prices at all time highs let’s put engines in restaurants and drive them around the Island.
      The cooking power from grossly inefficient gasoline generators.
      Some of them aren’t that loud or smell that bad.
      They sure don’t use much wash water…

      • Albert– I think you have a few things backwards.
        The trucks are a case of 1 vehicle coming to where 100 people are, rather than have 100 people go to the air conditioned restaurant.
        The food trucks cook with propane. That’s probably why those grossly inefficient gasoline generators are so quiet and don’t smell much.– They don’t exist. Yes, they may have a small gasoline powered generator for electricity, but they don’t cook with electricity. — Well maybe a little if they have a microwave.
        If you thought about it at all, the food truck is likely the most energy efficient and quickest way to get quality food to a large gathering of people. Do you think it’s more fuel efficient for tourists to go to an island event, and then take an uber to a restaurant, and then take another to get back home ?
        But I have noticed that for some reason, most conservatives will take any rational argument and use ridiculous, irrational and untrue talking points to make fools of themselves.
        Why is that ?

        • Don I am not a Conservative, see my comments about immigration, aboration, sexuality and racism.

          Most people drive to where the food trucks are, many because of the food trucks.

          The minimum size generator that I have seen on food trucks is 4 KW with 6 KW the norm.
          They must have refergeration, commercial microwaves draw 1.5 KW, modern convection ovens are electric.

          I prefer truck food over restaurant food.
          That does not make truck food the right choice for the environment.
          All of that single use serving trash.

          On the plus side food trucks always have spotless restrooms to wash up in before dinning…

          A person makes a fool of themselves when they make an assumption of Conservatism based on a comment on two.
          Is Don smarter than that?
          Don has me down as ridgid conservative and Andy as a Flaming Liberal.
          Here I am stuck in the middle.

          • Albert– I didn’t actually accuse you of being a conservative, but sorry that I implied it. You certainly are no fool.
            Your comment about the amount of electricity they use is certainly more accurate than mine.
            And the trash also..
            Foolish comment by me.
            But I will never think andy is a flaming liberal.

          • Is there anything worse than being called a conservative? Perhaps a liberal? No, Progressive? Oh wait maybe right wing gun loving nut?

            Or perhaps we can do away with labels and listen to people for just their ideas.

  3. I’m surprised they allowed internet services for the town.
    Holding off until we have MORE regulations ?
    What does that mean ?
    They jerked the cannabis industry around for years while they debated how many parking attendants they need, how many cameras, how close it could be to any place a child could possible walk past it. I will point out that children from the charter school hang out on the porch of the apothecary, despite the fact it sells seriously lethal opiates.
    But I digress–Just the fact that the building inspector thinks he has jurisdiction over a vehicle, where it parks, and what it sells is ludicrous.
    Are ice cream trucks allowed in this town ? Just imagine the regulations an ice cream truck would have to have today.. It would have to have at least one adult in a bright vest to usher children around and direct traffic, flashing red lights, gates, surveillance cameras a step with handrails, and rubber mats that would have to be placed on the ground in case a child fell in the mad crush to get a cone, and another hundred things that would take months to pass.
    Come on, let’s get off the idea that the “helicopter select board” has to protect us all from all things. As if there is something wrong with the food trucks. At least they shut their engines off.
    Not that any police department has ever enforced the anti idling law, and often violate it themselves.

    In my opinion, the town officials should occasionally get off their power tripping thrones and go fishing.

    • I was six when an ice cream truck killed a kid down the street from me.
      It was the last ice cream truck in town.

    • Don, one needs a permit to operate an ice cream truck. Sex offenders, for example, are denied permits. There are good reasons for regulations that might not be so obvious, until you stop and think. You know how mask mandates helped cut down on covid transmissions, even though many people wore stupid masks or masks that didn’t corner their nose? It took forever to get these regulations, too. We need regulations because too many people don’t do the right thing, ruining it for those of us who do. As soon as there were no more mask regulations, numbers went up. Let the town officials do what they are supposed to do with deciding about food trucks.

      Also, older school kids have been known to smoke marijuana on their lunch break, before school, and after, when they are outside their school or home. This is a real concern for responsible parents and adults. Pot is in no way benign for kids with brains not fully developed. I think recreational pot is a scourge on kids. Regulated medical use is a different matter, but strict regulations for all these substances matter tremendously.

  4. A food truck does not require much real estate, is self contained, goes home at the end of the day, employs and supports local people, and is a wonderful idea. Its’ time has come, and the West Tisbury Select Board should do the right thing and help these hard working people keep their business afloat. Why not issue temporary permits for now until the regulations are in place? What is the board worried about? Sounds like a lot of unnecessary hand wringing. Someone should offer them a free lunch out of the truck!

    • The food truck industry is about to explode.
      McDonalds, KFC, and Five Guys are finalizing their food truck designs…

  5. The real joy of food trucks will be when corporate America discovers the profit potential.
    No real estate taxes to pay.

  6. The World Market Mondays at the Grange, which I’ve enjoyed and supported, have been low key, not many vendors, and not well-attended, at least from my experience. The Grange’s Friday antique market and certainly, the Thursday and Sunday artisan market were always much busier. I imagine a Monday food truck will attract more business, which is the whole point of a market, right? Look how successful the West Tis Farmers Market became– I mean, who didn’t know it wouldn’t go back to the Grange after the pandemic slowed down? It became too big for the site, like the Chilmark Flea market became too big for the church property on the Menemsha crossroad. Bigger. More. More. More.

    Objectively, as the island implodes from lack of housing for workers needed to serve the year round and seasonal community, and more visitors, traffic, overcrowding, and staff shortages, including at our hospital, become worse, the island has favorite ideas to move forward. More people come up with more ideas for how to make a living here. The ideas seem to be based on short term interests, often self-interests. Why aren’t people thinking more about long term about effects from nice ideas like food trucks, camping on land bank properties, a housing bank, more and bigger festivals, and not just in summer.

    People don’t go to the Monday markets to eat, but if you cook it, they will come– maybe only because the food truck is there. I love food trucks– they’re great. I love a lot of things that aren’t readily available on the island, or didn’t used to be. I was attracted to the island in the early 70s because it wasn’t like everywhere else. The pride in no McDonalds and no stoplights is long gone now. Now it’s a 45 minute drive to Edgartwon Stop and Shop once a week so I don’t have to pay 9 dollars nearby for a half gallon of the kind of milk I need. These days it’s almost nostalgic to think of the dear souls picketing against the roundabout because they worried about things like the “character” of the island. No one is picketing the changed character of the island anymore.

    How big is the island? Will food trucks help turn quiet markets into yet more madhouses with not enough parking, traffic cops, and long waits for idiot drivers to move? I don’t know. It’s something to think about as people denigrate town officials for doing their job by looking beyond immediate gratification. I always wanted a food truck at Squibby– or at least an ice cream truck. Portapotties have not always been there, either. The more conveniences we provide for ourselves, the more MORE people will want a piece of it, too. Anyone been to Walden Pond lately? I hear it’s polluted.

    It’s impossible not to like Goldies and not to wish them well. But a realistic caution is appropriate.

    • Jackie is correct on food trucks and correct on pot being dangerous for young kids and correct on land bank excess. Incorrect on masks doing much.

      • Correct.

        Although the point of view in this long comment is not clear to me.
        Yes or no to food trucks?

    • When you came to the Vineyard in the 1970’s you increased the traffic congestion and the number of people shopping at the stores. Why are newcomers any different than you? Maybe naysayers like you should take responsibility for your actions and move away!

  7. Hi, I feel that many do not understand that the future of local food on MV produced by the younger generation is at risk. Food trucks and mobile vending in many ways represent the reality of the current situation. In order to operate out of a brick and mortar locations this means big money and not to mention availability. As many may not be aware of all mobile vendors are required to operate out of a licensed commercial kitchen which we pay good money for, pay town fees and event fees…. We support local agriculture by sourcing as many of our ingredients from local farms as possible.. We create a unique and dining opportunity for locals and visitors and contribute the eclectic history of the island. We bring more business to the events we attend!! Somehow we feel like we are now committing a crime by being a food entrepreneur???

    • Dean, I think weed trucks are a great idea.
      The island grown initiative’s produce truck brings fresh produce to different locations around the island, and has been doing so for years with great success. Except for the paranoid policies of some clueless politicians, they could easily have some locally grown cannabis. It’s an herb after all.

  8. The future of local food is not at risk. The community, restaurants, and markets are supportive of our farmers, buying, using, and selling their products. Food trucks selling prepared foods are a luxury, unlike the Island Grown mobile unit that brings their own grown produce at reduced prices to areas on the island where most useful. Grownups are aware that starting any business requires fees, licensing, paying taxes, investment of time and money, loans, all the fun stuff of being an adult. There is nothing unique about buying prepared food to eat elsewhere. In fact, anyone at any daytime Grange event can walk over to 7a or Alley’s for perfectly wonderful food and drink to picnic outside. Food trucks DO bring in more business to events and that is why the town has to figure out how best to deal with bigger and more, before it gets out of hand yet again. Shortsightedness and self-interest are not crimes.

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