Why ice cream trucks won't be roaming free on residential streets in Wauconda

While they are allowed in certain places, ice cream trucks won't be roaming free on the residential streets of Wauconda.

The village board by a 5-1 vote recently rejected a proposed change to village code that would have authorized ice cream trucks to operate in residential areas subject to licensing and other regulations, including background checks for drivers.

However, they can continue to operate on private property or on public streets at special events/block parties provided the village has approved the street closure.

That also will be the case for food trucks following board approval of a clarification of village code. Food trucks had been allowed to operate but were relegated to driveways or private property, for example, at block parties.

But like ice cream trucks, food trucks will not be allowed to operate freely on village streets.

"Food trucks, ice cream trucks, vending trucks have always been allowed on private property," Mayor Jeff Sode said after votes at the Nov. 21 meeting. "If you have a business and wanted a food truck, we never denied that - that's up to the private individual (or) business owner to take care of it."

Availability and operations of ice cream trucks were discussed over two sessions by the village's advisory economic development commission. The topic was advanced by Wauconda business owner and resident J.R. Meyers, who said he was asked by supporters to present the idea.

"It just seems like a common sense thing. That's how it got started," he said.

The commission discussed potential changes to food and ice cream trucks from the then-current regulations, which prohibited them from operating on village streets and sidewalks, to allowing food trucks on streets and ice cream trucks in residential areas, explained Allison Matson, village administrator.

Any changes that would have allowed food trucks on streets other than at special events never gained any traction in the commission's discussion, she added.

The commission voted 4-2 recommending the village allow ice cream trucks to circulate.

Meyers said an overwhelming majority of several hundred responses to his informal social media polls favored allowing ice cream trucks. He reiterated his point to the village board asking they make the "childhood right of passage" available.

Jennifer Kuhn, village trustee and commission chair who also supported the measure, said ice cream trucks and food trucks are popular ways for people to enjoy downtown communities.

Trustee and economic development Commissioner Tim Howe didn't support the action at either level.

Howe after the fact said the village has brick-and-mortar ice cream shops in town that pay property and sales taxes, and employ residents.

Those businesses have made "a real contribution" to the community that an out-of-town ice cream truck doesn't, he added.

Howe said he received only six messages from residents on the issue, four in favor and two opposed and that public participation at the commission and board meetings was light.

"At the end of the day, this appeared to be a solution to a problem which didn't exist," he said.

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