Wild Bill’s Chuck Wagon will be able to remain at Popcorn Park Zoo without going before the Planning Board for site plan approval, for now.
The food truck came to the township four or five years ago to be stationed part-time at Popcorn Park Zoo, Committeeman and Planning Board Member Gary Quinn previously said. The applicant received administrative approval, which has been extended each year.
At Tuesday night’s Planning Board meeting, the applicant asked the board to consider granting a waiver for an extended period of time such as five or 10 years before returning for administrative approval.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher in this economy,” he said. “We were out there working at the zoo the last couple of years and we had a slip this year with a couple of different things,” the applicant said. “We would like to continue doing business out there.”
In September, the board discussed whether it should continue to grant the applicant administrative approval to remain at Popcorn Park or if it should return for a site plan waiver.
Because township’s zoning laws have changed regarding the operation of food trucks since Wild Bill’s Chuck Wagon’s original approval, the board weighed the good with the bad then.
Business stands are no longer a permitted use in town because they compete with local businesses that pay taxes, Committeeman Gary Quinn previously said when an issue with Dewey’s Dogs arose. An office building is being built where Dewey’s was formally located, and the food truck had to relocate to a storefront.
But Quinn said it wasn’t a matter of impact to the township because Wild Bill’s benefits Popcorn Park Zoo, with 50 percent of the beverage and 10 percent of the food profits going to the animal rescue organization. Returning for a site plan waiver would be a great expense.
“We have a very good working relationship,” the owner said. “They do very well. They’re very happy. It hurt them a lot not to have me out there this year.”
In September, the board agreed to allow Wild Bill’s to remain without requiring a site plan but did not grant him extended approval.
“Although that would be the logical thing to do, unfortunately, if we open that door it’s setting a precedence,” Quinn said.
The board has many applicants who return yearly for temporary administrative approval who would be seeking an extended waiver if one was granted to Wild Bill’s, he said.
Quinn recommended that the applicant address the township Committee in January to see if the uses and fees can be adjusted.
“I know the fees are killing you,” Quinn said of Wild Bill’s having to pay for the waiver yearly.
“It’s killing us,” the owner said.