City to revoke hand food cart license after receiving complaints

ROCK SPRINGS – With a letter in hand, Hand Up Food Cart operator Laurie Davis addressed the Rock Springs City Council last night to find out why her conditional home use license was being revoked.

The Food Charrette aims to give a helping hand to food insecure people in the community through food donations. It supplements the food bank and the mobile food drive when they cannot meet the needs of the population.

This wasn’t the first time Davis had addressed the Council about his food cart. The city found a way to keep the business open after receiving complaints about it operating without a permit in June 2021. Council decided to try a ‘loophole’ recommended by the Rock Springs Planning and Zoning Commission and the food cart remained open.

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Davis came armed with a letter last night stating that on June 8, 2021, a business license and conditional home use permit to operate the food cart in a shed next to Davis’ home was issued under certain conditions.

“We have received numerous complaints over the past 16 months regarding the operation of the non-profit home occupation,” the letter states. “The ‘commercial type’ use within a residential neighborhood is disturbing to the neighborhood and does not preserve its residential area.

The letter continues that although the need for this type of service is there, it may not be the best place for it. Davis has until January 1, 2023 to operate the cart at 1049 Truman Street.

“We are extending the date to spend the holidays and giving you plenty of time to pursue another location, if you wish,” the letter explains.

The full letter is below.

The discussion

“I don’t understand why it’s being taken away from me,” Davis said. “The community needs it.”

Davis said the shed the food was stored in was clean, organized, and had a fridge and freezer to store meat, cheese and other food items. She added that there was even a ramp to the shed for those who needed it. She spoke passionately about the number of people using the food cart, which is powered by donations.

Mayor Tim Kaumo said the city received numerous complaints after asking him to meet the permit conditions.

“I did everything you asked of me,” Davis said.

Kaumo said most of the complaints have been about the amount of extra traffic the food cart has brought to the area and safety issues around parking. He asked Davis if she had any other areas in mind outside of the residential area to handle the food cart.

Davis said she wasn’t going to move it to another area because it’s near public housing and a school where most donations go.

City planner Cathy Greene said the food cart operates more like a retail business in a residential area with too many people coming in and out of the area to pick up food.

Greene said it was supposed to operate with coordinated pickup times to reduce traffic. She added that she knew the service was needed in the community and offered to help Davis find a new location before the permit was revoked.

Davis said she couldn’t think of anywhere else in that area to run the food cart and wouldn’t move it out of Truman’s area due to need.

There are no other food carts in this area. She acknowledged the increased traffic, but said it wasn’t from the food cart. She said it was FedEx, UPS and DoorDash drivers delivering goods that increased traffic.

Greene said she could appeal the revocation to the Planning and Zoning Commission or find a new location. City attorney Rick Beckwith said they should resolve the issue with planning and zoning or the council of adjustment and not with the city council. It’s unclear whether Davis will appeal the decision or find a new location.

other business

The Council approved Walmart’s application for a Grab & Go liquor station.

Council approved an application from the Urban Renewal Agency for authority to apply for a $15,000 CLG grant to the Wyoming State Historic Office to help defray paint and wood restoration costs for the historic Rock Museum Springs.