City council narrowly rejects law allowing food trucks, in 4-3 vote

Published 3:35 am Saturday, September 7, 2019

By a vote of 4-3, the members of the Bogalusa City Council narrowly rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed for the operation of food trucks within the city of Bogalusa.

The item was not originally on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Bogalusa City Council. The ordinance had initially been brought up for adoption at the Aug. 20 council meeting, but was tabled at the time.

On Tuesday, council member Gloria Kates made a motion for the agenda to be amended to take adoption of the food truck ordinance off the table. The amendment was approved unanimously.

Prior to the council’s vote, Bogalusa businessman John Taylor spoke against the proposal to allow food trucks.

Taylor said that he believes new businesses in the city should be “brick-and-mortar,” because there are many buildings that are vacant already and they would be great locations for businesses. He noted that any food trucks that come to Bogalusa could hurt established businesses that have already been supporting the community for decades.

Taylor noted that his family’s businesses — including Glynn’s Drive-In — had invested in Bogalusa and Washington Parish, through taxes, utility fees and community participation. He questioned whether a mobile food truck operator would have the same investment potential and community pride.

After Taylor and other members of the public spoke, council members had the opportunity to comment on the issue. Council member Oneita Graham said that she was concerned about the city getting too involved in the free market.

“I don’t think as a legislative body that we should be saying who can and who can’t compete,” she said.

Kates noted that the ordinance would only initially allow for six food trucks at a maximum, and any prospective operators would have to meet all permit and health department requirements.

“As I discussed earlier, I believe in opportunity for folks that are inquiring about this,” she said. “… And once again, there is no guarantee that any individual is going to get a permit for a food truck.”

Kates made the motion to vote on the ordinance, and the motion was seconded by Graham. Ultimately, the ordinance failed by a single vote. Kates, Graham and Danielle Keys voted in favor of it, while Kenny Kellis, Mark Irvine, Teddy Drummond and Penny Douglas voted against it.

In other business, the council:

  • Recognized Willene Ellzey for her years of service on the Planning and Zoning Board.
  • Introduced an ordinance to establish a “Volunteer Code Enforcement Reserve.” This ordinance will be voted upon and open for public discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 17, council meeting.
  • Voted 7-0 on an ordinance authorizing the mayor and the chief of police to enter into a memorandum of understanding for the Bogalusa Police Department and Our Lady of Angels Hospital. This agreement will allow the hospital to pay for a BPD officer to be on site for emergency situations, if needed.
  • Approved Mayor Wendy Perrette’s three new nominations to the Parks and Recreation Commission. They were Adrian Brister, Mike Keen and April Bruns.
  • Approved Mayor Wendy Perrette’s nomination of Eleanor Duke to the Bogalusa Housing Authority Board, replacing Ryan Seal who recently resigned from the board.
  • Heard Perrette proclaim Sept. 22-28 as National Rail Safety Week.
  • Heard from Wade Adams, who spoke about the recent improvements and changes at the Bogalusa Help Center.

The next meeting of the Bogalusa City Council will be Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall, 214 Arkansas St.