RIDGELAND — Aldermen unanimously adopted an ordinance that will allow mobile food vendors the opportunity to operate legally within the city of Ridgeland.

The food truck ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday evening 5-0 with Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith, Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard, Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier, Ward 4 Alderman Brian Ramsey and Ward 5 Alderman Bill Lee voting in the affirmative. Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Holder and Mayor Gene McGee were absent. 

Ward 6 Alderman Wesley Hamlin led the proceedings and reserved his vote in the need of a tiebreaker.

Community Development Director Alan Hart said that he had shown the ordinance to the Mississippi Food Truck Association and that it had received their “stamp of approval.”

Lee asked if he had used a template.

Hart said that he had reviewed similar ordinances enacted in Oxford and Jackson. The board showed wide approval for the ordinance and it swiftly passed Tuesday evening.

Hart originally presented a sample ordinance to the Mayor and Board of Alderman in October.

He said current food trucks operating in the city were either permitted because they were catering an event and not selling directly to customers, were tied to a specific event, or were operating under questionable if not outright illegal standing. He said the ordinance would help clear up any confusion and add a way to know who was operating in town and offer a way to collect taxes.

The ordinance was developed by a panel of business owners and restaurateurs, all with skin in the transient vendor game, to make sure the ordinance welcomed new businesses while protecting existing companies in Ridgeland.

The ordinance states vendors will have to submit all four sides of their truck to the city for architectural review and will have to have a home base, in or out of town, to properly prepare food, store equipment and dispose of waste.

In addition, entities already based within the city will have a six-month head start on obtaining licenses and conducting business.

“Throughout this process, we always want to be careful to protect our local restaurants,” McGee said at the time. “That is part of the reason we are not asking anyone to vote tomorrow evening. We want to carefully consider this.”

Vendors will also have to register a privilege license that will last 90 days. Initial fillings will likely cost just above $250 and will have a limited number of $25 extensions before a new license must be re-obtained. Fees for individual events will be $50.

Hart said in October that food trucks will only be allowed in certain zoning classifications.

“Think C-2 and C-3a, those types of places,” he said.

Vendors will require the landowner's permission and must be more than 200 feet away from the door of restaurant buildings.