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‘No’ to food trucks on city property

City council denies Cowboy’s request to rent a space in a city-owned parking lot

Scott Coleman, owner of Cowboy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers and More, lost his petition to the city during the regular council meeting Tuesday via Zoom. Coleman was asking to rent a space in the parking lot at the intersection of West Adams and South Elm streets for a year to operate his food truck in the uptown district.

Council member Matt Levine offered a solution where Coleman would pay $500 a month or $6,000 a year to occupy the space, equating it to the property taxes paid by restaurants in the area.

A search of Beacon, the state website listing property values and taxes, reveals buildings housing restaurants and bars in the area pay as little as $1,096 up to $4,866 per year in property tax. These commercial buildings also include second floor apartments.

Coleman argued that his $18,000 trailer should not face the same fees as a $100,000 or more business.

“I can’t afford to pay a lot,” he said. “Mr. Levine, you want me to pay property tax. I’ll tell you what you do: you figure out what the property tax would be for one year on $18,000 worth of property.”

Council member Brenda Lyell-Keate said the fee should be more consistent with the number of people served.

“A&G can hold how many people?,” she asked. “How many people can he do in a day? You have to compromise. You have to be fair to the businesses.”

Council member Rich Madison said the council should not set a precedent of allowing the rental of city property to for-profit businesses.

Council member Terry Freeman said the precedent was set previously when the council did not allow the Little Green Trailer to use city property.

The council voted 6 to 1 to deny the application with Brenda Lyell-Keate as the sole yes vote.

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