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Food trucks are coming to downtown Rochester after months of debate

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Downtown Rochester will soon have food trucks.

After months of debate, the city council voted unanimously to amend a city ordinance, making it easier for food trucks to operate in downtown Rochester.

Why they weren't downtown before

Food trucks have been legal in the city, but rules made it tough for them to operate downtown. For example: The ordinance said food truck vendors couldn't operate at a single location for more than 15 minutes.

But the measure passed Monday changes that rule, allowing food trucks – and other "mobile food unites" – to operate in specific zones in the city at certain times. It also lays out franchising and licensing fees for those interested in becoming food truck vendors. (Read the amended ordinance here.)

Food trucks likely by summer

The ordinance is expected to go into effect June 12 – the city council still has to do a second reading of the rules, which is scheduled for June 6, the Rochester Post Bulletin says.

Which means by summer, people in downtown Rochester will be able to grab a bite to eat at food trucks near Central Park and the Rochester Public Library, as well as on 2nd Avenue Southwest, KTTC reports.

And during late-night hours, food trucks will be allowed to operate on 2nd Street, between 1st Avenue Southwest and Broadway, the news station says.

This summer will be kind of like a pilot program for food trucks. City officials say they'll reevaluate the ordinance at the end of the summer and make changes to it if necessary, KIMT reports.

New rules come after social media 'outcry'

The debate over whether to allow food trucks in downtown Rochester began last year with an "outcry on social media" after a food truck was forced to leave downtown, the Med City Beat said. That led to an online survey and several public forums, before city officials came up with rules to regulate food trucks in the city.

It's not clear how many vendors plan to launch a food truck in Rochester this year. The Minnesota Food Truck Association, which works to promote food trucks across the state, includes more than 60 vendors, according to the group's website, with most appearing to be located in the Twin Cities.

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