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Streets of Italy

Marcellus Angel of Rock Island pulls a pizza from Streets of Italy's wood-fire oven in The District of Rock Island.

It's not a question of if, but rather when food trucks will begin populating the city of Bettendorf.

Bettendorf officials have been researching a mobile food vendor ordinance since last year and after gathering input and feedback from the community, the ordinance could make its first appearance March 6 on the City Council's agenda.

Economic Development Director Jeff Reiter and Denice Enfield, the city's public relations, social media and event specialist, gave the City Council an overview of the proposed ordinance during Tuesday's committee-of-the-whole meeting.

"We feel very confident on every survey question that 50 percent of the responses were favorable or in some fashion supportive of what we're recommending in the ordinance," Reiter said.

Reiter and Enfield said they have been communication with the city of Davenport about its own ordinance, including going through inspections, to see what worked and what didn't.

Prior to a draft of the ordinance coming out, there were concerns about how to make the ordinance fair and equitable for food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants given that traditional restaurants have to pay property taxes.

An analysis of property taxes for 20 restaurants in Bettendorf resulted in a proposed fee structure of $500 to operate in the city on an annual basis.

Reiter said this was determined based on those properties paying $3.72 per square-foot. The average square footage of a food truck is 128 square feet.

In contrast to the fees to operate in the city of Davenport, Enfield said the fees would be about $155 lower.

If a vendor were invited to participate on a one-time basis at an event, it could do so for $75.

Unlike Davenport, Enfield said the proposed ordinance would forgo zones for food trucks because it was found that they hindered business.

"The hours were all-day, every day and trucks could be there anytime and really people weren't coming out the way when there were more events planned," Enfield said.

Instead, Enfield said it was more beneficial to know where and when a food truck was going to be located.

For a mobile food truck vendor to receive a permit on public property, it would have to its application approved by the City Council. If it wished to operate in a park, the Park Board would have to approve before the City Council has a say.

The proposed ordinance also gives permission to operate on private property with approval from the property owner.

Reiter asked the City Council to read over the ordinance over the next few weeks with the hope that the first reading of an ordinance would take place on March 6.

If the timeline holds, Reiter said final approval of the ordinance would take place April 3 along with a resolution approving the fee structure.

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