Cortland Based Ice Cream Truck Business Put On Ice by City Code
I scream you scream but, the City of Cortland is saying no way to a local man trying to sell ice cream out of a mobile truck.
Is there anything more symbolic of the American summer than the local ice-cream man making his rounds through the neighborhood with a cheery tune playing from his little truck and children dashing out to grab a frozen novelty from that guy in the paper hat?
Local business owner Ray Oliver got the idea last year of starting his own ice cream truck business; he spent several months researching the plan, building a truck, and securing the proper insurance and permits. Oliver says he spent about $10 thousand dollars getting the business off the ground.
This spring Oliver’ Ollie’s ice cream truck was open for about two weeks, he sold ice cream at the Corn Ducky Derby demand for his Bomb Pops and Nutty Buddy’s was high and all was going well, or so he thought.
Oliver was notified by the City of Cortland that his permit to operate was issued in error and that the $300 permit was being revoked, effectively shutting him down. Now Oliver has a truck full of unsold ice-cream sandwiches and finds himself sandwiched between potentially outdated codes and bureaucratic red tape.
Oliver says he is confused, he thought he followed all the applicable laws, obtained all the required insurances, and necessary permits; he says he is getting frosty response from city officials who don’t appear to be interested in helping a small business owner.
City Mayor Brian Tobin confirmed that the city code does not allow for mobile vending trucks, even though the city code does allow for mobile food push carts and outdoor hotdog concessions.
Mobile food trucks are a huge business now, generating millions of dollars in economic activity in cities across the country.
Several communities are struggling with regulations to allow these types of businesses while protecting fixed base business. The City of Atlanta has passed an ordinance requiring food trucks to stay 1500 feet from a business selling similar products.
While setting standards is one approach, the City Council has not taken any steps to sort the issue out. Tobin says it will likely require a change in local codes to accommodate mobile vendors including ice cream trucks. Changing local laws can be a lengthy process and Oliver’s currently in a time crunch as the prime time for selling ice cream is now.
The newsroom asked Tobin if the City of Cortland discourages theses types businesses? Tobin says it’s a tough question, but he is not chilled by the idea of ice cream trucks.
Tobin says last year the city shut down two other mobile truck operators because of the current city code.
Oliver says he hears all the time that small business is the back bone of the community; he started Ollie’s ice cream as a business for his kids who he hopes will choose to stay here after school.
Ironically the city did issue Oliver a permit to sell during the upcoming dairy parade.
In the meantime Oliver plans to sell in Cortlandville and Homer where he has been issued permits, just don’t look for him anytime soon on the streets of Cortland.