MUSCODA - Food truck controversy struck the Muscoda Village Board meeting for the month of April, last Tuesday, April 13.
“I found his business to be parasitic,” stated Dan Behrens, owner of Honkers and Sportsman’s Bar and Grill, during his appearance before the board. “He moves into small towns with little businesses, takes what he can and leaves.”
Behrens came before the board to take issue with Jose’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant’s Food Truck, which most recently visited Muscoda on Friday, April 9. The Truck was set up on the street near the Railroad Park Gazebo, and according to their Facebook Post, worked with Copper Lounge where “Jose’s Famous Margaritas” were served.
Behrens explained to the board that the food truck visited Muscoda on March 26 and April 9.
“It seemed to be a great success, it went well. On the surface it seemed great for the community,” Behrens shared. “Now it’s going to be every other week. I can tell you that makes a big difference to other businesses in town. He (the food truck owner) applied for 20 permits. Muscoda gains nothing from the food truck and gives them the ability to capture the majority of the business for 20 days.” Behrens went on to express concern about the limited amount of rules and ordinances there are regarding food trucks in Muscoda and shared that other chambers are “having the exact same problems.”
“There is nothing to stop the next food truck!” Behrens said. “Any for profit business who wants to use public property should appear before the board. They shouldn’t be allowed more than three days of siphoning from the community.”
When Behrens finished his presentation before the board, the floor was open to others in attendance (which was at least 20 people).
One resident of the community shared, “For me, from my point of view, when I went, it was something different. Can other businesses do something different too?” The resident questioned.
“One to two times or something is okay,” Behrens said. “But so many (visits) can have a serious impact.”
At the request of another visitor to the meeting, Behrens shared that his numbers were down 30 percent when Jose’s Food Truck visited.
“I want to know if the village will make this right,” Behrens said.
Muscoda Chamber of Commerce President Jim Patch shared that “It was fun, but we support Dan’s position on this. It could get out of control and there is nothing in it for Muscoda. We need to find a way to restrict it.”
Others seemed to quietly agree with this sentiment.
However, another citizen present disagreed and echoed the voices who commented on Facebook in support of the truck.
“I enjoy the food truck,” The citizen shared. “I don’t see anything wrong with bringing others in town to do something different.”
On the food trucks Facebook Page, others also shared on the posts sharing their visits to Muscoda.
“Thanks for bringing some variety to the community. Looking forward to seeing you again soon!”
“I’ve driven from Muscoda to Lone Rock and Boscobel on the days you aren’t here for your food and I love it!”
“I hope you have plans to come back to Muscoda. Your food is awesome.”
Under the previous advisement of the Village Attorney Ben Wood, the food truck operated under the “Transient Merchant” ordinance, which allowed them to purchase a $100 license, and additional permits at the cost of $5 of which Jose’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant purchased 20. Totalling $200 in revenue for the village. Wood noted during the meeting “This is the closest ordinance I could find that would fit the food trucks needs.”
“Muscoda purchased their ordinances in 1992 and at that time no one thought a food truck would be coming into the village,” Wood explained of why the Transient Merchant License was issued over possibly more food truck specific licenses.
There was much discussion over what to do in regards to the currently purchased license as well as what could happen going forward.
“You don’t want to dig too deep into this,” Wood advised. “It could affect others, even nonprofits. My recommendation would be to make a specific food truck ordinance.”
It was shared that other communities have worked on specific ordinances, and some like Platteville have abolished them because of the complicated legal issues they can present.
“When we issued this permit, I didn’t realize it would snowball like this,” Village President Dorothy Hackle said, with a look of surprise on her face.
“I know some people that know some things and I know that Jose doesn’t push back,” Behrens said.
“A lot of people enjoyed it and I think we should not be looking at blocking him out but having moderation and keeping it novel,” shared now former village board trustee, Alan Blood. “That’s just my two cents.”
After additional conversation on how to handle the situation, including a rescinded motion to suspend issuing all Transient Merchant licenses applied for, due to it not being an agenda item, it was concluded that on the recommendation of Attorney Ben Wood, that the village would refund the $200 that was collected in fees for the food truck operating.
This means that Jose’s Authentic Mexican Food or any other food truck would be able to visit Muscoda and set up, without any permit or other approval by the village. Although, at this time, there seems to be no other planned stops in the village for this particular food truck.
However, there has since been a committee formed with a meeting planned for Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m. to discuss creating an ordinance and other issues surrounding food trucks in the community.
Additionally, it is to be noted that Jose’s Authentic Mexican Food has made a $200 donation towards the Muscoda Morel Mushroom Festival at this time.
The long discussed cemetery cremation area reached a milestone marker in its development.
“With the amount of cremations taking place we need to do something,” shared Bill Bartlett
It was shared the intention of the project is to create a dedicated space to have cremated remains at the village cemetery. With plans for two 64 unit areas and one 72 unit area reserved specifically for veterans, as well as a memorial bench donated by Archie Monuments. The new structure will allow the interment of cremated remains. An option that continues to increase in popularity as the years go on.
As of now, the board has approved one of the 64 unit areas as well as the area specifically for veterans, with plans to do fundraising to cover the concrete costs.
In other board news:
•The Muscoda Library is now fully open to the public.
•The Morel Mushroom Festival continues to seek vendors.
•The Police Department continues to receive junk complaints, which are reported related to people waiting for Spring Clean up. An earlier spring clean up in the future may be considered.
•A local Eagle Scout is making bat houses and benches for the park.
•Disconnection of delinquent utilities has begun.
•Alan Blood and Bill Bartlett were both thanked for their service to the Village of Muscoda as this was their last meeting as trustees.