Council talks land uses, food truck permits in city

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 6/22/18

Sumter City Council during its meeting on Tuesday took steps to preserve a man's business after a lengthy discussion about land uses and voted to encourage more food trucks to come to the city.

Rezoning request

for auto repair shop

Reading: …

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Council talks land uses, food truck permits in city

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Sumter City Council during its meeting on Tuesday took steps to preserve a man's business after a lengthy discussion about land uses and voted to encourage more food trucks to come to the city.

Rezoning request for auto repair shop

Reading: First of two

What it means: The owner of a .99-acre parcel at 835 S. Harvin St. requested that the property be rezoned from residential-6 to general commercial so that he can operate an auto repair shop there.

Discussion: "I've been operating this place since 2000," said the applicant, Jerry Williams. "I need something in black and white of what I can do and what I can't do without breaking the law."

The planning department has received multiple complaints and the codes enforcement office has contacted Williams multiple times, at least since April 2017, McGregor said.

"[The applicant's auto repair shop] is not, and never was, legally located there, meaning there was no business license obtained," he said.

McGregor said auto repair uses are only permitted on general commercial, light industrial wholesale or heavy industrial properties. He said the shop is also backed and sided by single-family homes.

"That area needs to be improved more as far as residential and nothing commercial coming in there," councilwoman Ione Dwyer told McGregor.

She later asked if the issue could be deferred.

"I don't want to stop you from your livelihood, understand me," she said to Williams.

However, a motion to approve the request had already been proposed when Dwyer asked about a deferment. The first motion was later approved after further discussion, so a motion for deferment was not considered.

Williams has been in that area for years and never created a problem, said councilman Thomas Lowery.

"I don't understand why Mr. Williams has to rezone," he said.

You can't model these things for every individual person, Mayor McElveen said. "It will bite you at some point."

He said his intentions were not to hurt the applicant but that Williams had a bigger problem because he did not have a business license to operate the auto repair shop.

"If the law is one way, it has to be enforced one way," McElveen said. "You can't do it selectively."

During the public hearing portion of the issue, multiple city residents, many of whom have used Williams' services, spoke in favor of the rezoning stating his business has been good for the area.

Vote: Approved by majority vote - councilman David Merchant and Mayor McElveen voted in opposition; councilwoman Dwyer abstained from voting after stating she has a conflict of interest because she is a member of Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church which owns property across the street from the applicant's land.

Amendment to permit food trucks in the city

Reading: First

What it is: If approved, the ordinance will allow more styles of food trucks in more areas of the city.

Nine years ago, city council approved an ordinance amendment that permits only hotdog style carts to be operated as mobile vending units in general commercial districts, said Sumter City-County Planning Department Director George McGregor.

McGregor said Sumter County Council voted to amend the county regulations to permit catering-style trucks, the most common kind of mobile vending vehicles, in certain districts in the county in 2002.

The amendment presented to city council on Tuesday would allow catering-style trucks to operate in general commercial, limited commercial, light industrial-warehouse and heavy industrial districts as a temporary use, subject to annual permitting.

The proposed amendment also states mobile food trucks can only be located on one of the aforementioned zoned properties with the business owner's permission, and the vehicles must be removed from the property during non-business hours.

A food truck will not be permitted to locate on a vacant lot, McGregor said.

The Sumter City-County Planning Commission unanimously and overwhelmingly recommended that food trucks not be allowed in the central business districts downtown in defense of existing restaurants and the attempt to expand Sumter's restaurant community, he said.

The idea is to see how things work in other districts and come back to that discussion, he said.

Discussion: During a public hearing, one city resident said he worried that allowing the food trucks in the city could take business away from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Vote: Unanimous approval

2018 Fiscal Year Budget Amendment

Reading: Second and final

What it is: An ordinance to amend the city's 2018 budget to include a $6 million general obligation bond and increase the amount of money to be transferred from the city's hospitality fund to its general fund account from 35 percent to 45 percent.

The $6 million bond will be used to reimburse the city's general fund account for improvements made to the Alice Drive fire station in the amount of $800,000; to put finishing touches to the Public Safety complex on Lafayette Drive, valued at $4 million; and to engineer and install a new fiber loop to secure data usage for the city's departments, valued at $1.2 million.

Vote: Unanimous approval