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Food Trucks Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Can I set up my food truck in Chapel Hill?

    On January 30, 2012, when the Town Council adopted regulations (Town Code and Land Use Management Ordinance) to allow food trucks, it was responding to a community interest to offer more food choices while also protecting the viability of existing restaurants. The new rules are designed to prevent unfair competition, nuisances, and safety hazards. Food truck vending is generally limited to commercially zoned, privately owned properties that can accommodate additional foot traffic. There are restrictions on food truck on-site locations and on hours of operation.
  2. Where can I set up my food truck for business?

    Go to the Permit Center on the 3rd floor of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., or call 919-968-5066. Staff will work with you to determine which permits you will need for operating at your proposed location. 
  3. How do I acquire permits to operate my food truck in Chapel Hill?

    The three-step process involves the following:

    Step One
    Go on-line at www.townofchapelhill.org/permitcenter or visit the Permit Center on the 3rd floor of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., or call 919-968-5066. Download the application forms, or ask for the Zoning Compliance Permit for Food Truck Vending - Vendor Application (annual fee: $718/truck) and Zoning Compliance Permit for Food Truck Vending – Property Owner Application (annual fee: $118). Town staff will review your applications, with attention to safety, nuisance prevention, property owner permission, and meeting zoning rules.

    Step Two
    Apply for a Business License to conduct business in Chapel Hill. Forms are available online at http://www.townofchapelhill.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=248 or on the 1st floor of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (annual fee: $25)

    The Town’s Revenue Collector will require documentation that the Step One vending permits have been approved. Additional documentation will be required showing that County health department approval has been granted. Successful applicants will receive a Food Truck Vending Decal for each truck.

    Step Three
    Set up for business! Apply your decal and keep your permits on the truck and available for inspection. Call the Inspections Division at 919-968-2718 to arrange for inspections.
  4. Can I set up my food truck for catering at a private party on private residential property?

    Yes, if you are setting up on private residential property for one day only, and if the food is already prepared, and if the food is not being sold to the general public. An additional Business License is necessary. (Fee varies. Check with the Revenue Collector.)
  5. I don’t want to sell year round. Can I set up my food truck for a Town-sponsored public special event such as a street fair?

    Special Events: For special, date and time specified events on public property or spaces owned by the town, event organizers wishing to sell food must apply for an Outdoor Special Events Permit from the Parks and Recreation Department.
  6. I don’t want to sell year round. Can I set up my food truck for an event, NOT sponsored by the Town, but on public property (e.g., school carnival)?

    For special events on school or university property, you will need the property owner’s permission and a Business License.
  7. Where do I send my concerns about potential unsanitary conditions of a food truck?

    Contact the Orange County Health Department, 919-245-2360.
  8. If I suspect that a food truck is not complying with local rules, where do I send my concerns?

    The Town of Chapel Hill Inspections Division will be routinely conducting Food Truck inspections to ensure compliance with the ordinance. Please report any concerns about food trucks to the Town of Chapel Hill Inspections Division at 919-968-2718. If after normal business hours, you can call 911. A Police Officer will respond, document the violation and forward the information to the appropriate enforcement entity.
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