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Food cart ordinance passes on first reading

Approval and discussions of ordinances were on the agenda during the regularly scheduled Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Monday, April 20, at the Unicoi Town Hall.
Mobile food carts will potentially be on the horizon for the town after ordinance 2015-237 made it through the first reading with unanimous support from board members.
“It is in the best interest of the town,” Mayor Johnny Lynch said. Lynch also stated that no opposition has been mentioned since the ordinance was created on March 9.
Food carts will have the opportunity to set up in the town, if the ordinance passes on through additional readings.
A $200 application will be issued for each cart with no more than five being issued at a time, Lynch said. Vendors will have a chance to renew a permit for $150 each year if the cart passes through inspection.
Vendors will need to provide a Unicoi County business license or proof of application to the Board of Zoning and Appeals, along with verification of a current sales tax number in order to demonstrate that tax revenue goes to the town. Also, a site plan with location of all proposed equipment and landscaping in accordance with the town’s zoning ordinance to be approved by the planning commission is required, as is approval from fire and police chiefs and a building inspector.
The food carts must be in compliance with all state health laws and hold a liability insurance for $1 million.
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Members of the BMA opened the new business portion of the meeting by discussing the large truck ordinances and utility cut permits in place around town.
The large truck ordinances go into effect once an 18-wheeler attempts to cross over on a narrow road in town. In areas where signs are posted, drivers are asked to contact police officers to assist with transportation, or risk citations.
Utility cut permits are also part of the town’s allowing the roads to stay in good shape, Lynch said.
“Our roads are in good shape now,” he added, “and we wanted to keep them that way and that’s why we have these in place.”
Permits are in accordance once a utility company makes road cuts. The company has 60 days to return to an area where cuts are made to fix any damages.
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An annual tradition will continue after a resolution unanimously passed for the upcoming Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival in Unicoi that will shut down Unicoi Drive to Massachusetts Avenue on May 16 from 8 to 10 a.m., except for emergency traffic, for the festival’s parade.
“The Strawberry Festival is an important time for our town,” Lynch said. “It helps increase the tax revenue in our town and surrounding counties.”
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A maintenance truck is now part of the town after the BMA passed a resolution to purchase a used-service truck for $6,500 to help with work in the area.
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BMA also passed first reading of an ordinance to adopt new building and energy codes that will look to be approved upon further readings.
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In other business:
• The Unicoi County 4-H GPS team showcased a map presentation to members of the BMA and meeting attendants, represented by 4-H leaders, Ty Petty and Rachel Bradshaw, and students Dara Carney-Nedelman, Amanda Huggins and Liz Moughon.
• An early headstart program will be implemented in the coming weeks that will bring employment to over 15 individuals.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley addressed members with their office’s report and commended his current deputies on staff after having to spend time in Nashville. Along with the report, Hensley stated the need of manpower for the sheriff’s department.
• Jennifer Gryder gave the Tourism & Parks and Recreation report. A new Parks and Recreation employee will soon be hired for the town with interviews beginning soon.