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Nederland approves new life, opportunity into city rules governing food trucks

NEDERLAND — Boss Burger food truck owner Joe Oates was present during a lot of Nederland City Council meetings in 2019, advocating for food truck operation in the city.

His passion, and that of others like him, convinced the City Council to approve a Food Truck Pilot Program for 2020 testing the waters for possible permanent availability sometime in the future.

Unfortunately for food truck fans, 2020’s COVID pandemic nixed most outdoor gatherings.

Recognizing this wasn’t exactly a fair proving ground for the program, the Nederland City Council unanimously voted this month to extend the program throughout 2021.

“Unfortunately this calendar year has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and two hurricanes,” City Manager Chris Duque said. “No food truck permits have been requested or issued, therefore, staff recommends extending the food truck pilot program term another year.”

Oates was excited to receive Nederland city staff and council support.

“I am grateful that they are extending the program and looking forward to the opportunity to implement the program and give the people of Nederland some really good food through food trucks,” Oates said.

“It’s not that the food trucks aren’t ready, but the businesses are shorthanded, understaffed and not ready for big events. We just couldn’t do it.”

A key component to the pilot program stresses food truck operation must take place in accordance with a Nederland brick-and-mortar business’ special event.

Temporary permits must be secured and cannot be given out more than once a month or 12 times a year.

The trucks won’t be allowed to set up overnight and must situate on private property.

The pilot program does not allow for food trucks to set up in neighborhoods for open business.

However, residents seeking to hire a food truck for catering to a private party would be allowed to do so, as long as the food truck doesn’t sell to those outside of the party.

A Jefferson County Health Department permit is required, and food trucks would only be allowed in commercial and industrial zoning districts.

They would not be allowed to park within 50 feet of a residential structure or 100 feet of the primary entrance of an operating restaurant without written permission from the restaurant.

Boss Burger owner Joe Oates runs the food truck off of Aero Drive in Port Arthur. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Food truck fair

Joe Oates said he is seeking clearance from Port Arthur leaders to gather a few food trucks and bring them between Gulf Coast Credit Union and Memorial Church of Christ off of Aero Drive in Port Arthur for a fair day.

“I’m in the process of talking to the mayors of the different cities and city managers,” he said. “I want to honor the Southeast Texas Veterans Association. I want to make it a big deal, have a couple of bands and make it an all-day event, letting the near-by mayors and dignitaries come out and say a few things.”

Oates said the event’s organizers would make a donation to the Veterans Association and award a plaque.

Oates said community members are anxious to come out and support a worthy cause because “nobody is doing anything on any grand scale” due to COVID concerns.