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Berrien Springs split on regulations for food trucks

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BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. -

Restaurant owners in Berrien Springs are still at odds with food trucks trying to expand in the area.

Monday, village leadership heard from the brick and mortar managers as they deliberate on drafting an ordinance to regulate the mobile eateries.

Over the past few years, neighboring municipalities in Berrien County have gradually implemented regulations.

For weeks now many store owners have been pretty vocal, asking to see the same thing happen near them.

“We’re here to let you know what we feel about it before it’s overwhelming and then you want to do something about it but it’s too late by then,” said Joe Melendez, owner of Melendez, said to the village board Monday night.

There were fiery words shared during the Berrien Springs board meeting.

Several other business owners, like Melendez, have pressed the board to do something about the rise in food trucks in the area.

After weeks of open discussions with the community, board president Milton Richter says a solution is on the way.

“We will make an ordinance, hopefully that will take care of the situation, that will benefit all parties concerned,” said Richter.

Ramon Cuarto, president of Asian Food To-Go and Bubble Tea expressed the urgency for an ordinance because he believes he’s starting to lose his customers to these few traveling food suppliers.

He says his restaurant is now having a hard time competing and he believes the playing field is unfair.

“These trucks are not paying any taxes, they just come here and go and don’t have any responsibility,” said Cuarto.

David Quero is a local owner of a food truck called Sammy Arepas.

He’s been based out of Berrien Springs for a year and loves sharing Venezuelan cuisine with the area.

He explained his work is seasonal so paying taxes like a normal restaurant might not be feasible.

But he says he’d rather avoid conflict and wouldn’t mind an ordinance that calls on food trucks to pay a fee to the area.

“If the city here goes to do some regulation for the trailer, I’m open to that,” said Quero.

The village board has not set a date for when an ordinance will be drafted.

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