Horry County Council defers food truck discussion

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County council members voted 9-3 against the mobile food truck pilot program at a meeting Tuesday, October 7. While many people voiced their distaste for the decision on social media, council members want to clarify they voted no to the pilot program, not food trucks.On Monday, the topic was back up for discussion in the Horry County Council meeting, but was deferred until November.

Leaders earlier in the month had several issues with the proposal, which was in its first reading.

"It's going to hurt brick and mortar folks who've borrowed money from banks. Now, you're going to allow someone set up shop 200-500 feet from them," said Councilman Harold Worley. Other councilmen echoed his concern.

"I've had some people come to me with concerns, where [mobile food trucks] can set up competes with brick and mortar restaurants in my district," said Councilman Paul Price. "As [the ordinance] is written, I can't support it."

However, one manager of a brick and mortar business doesn't only support food trucks, he helped write the pilot program presented to County Council.

"It was an outstanding group of people on the committee, so organized, I really thought we'd have a good outcome for it," shared Bill Barber after hearing the news the program was voted down.

As the general manager for SBB, Barber has organized yearly food truck festivals for the area.

"Remember we're a tourist community here, so the festivals alone would bring a lot more people into the area and everyone would reap the rewards," said Barber.

Worley also brought up the issue of cleanliness. He suggested to amend the proposed pilot program, and perhaps limit food trucks to construction sites and special events.

He also wants the council to take a look at current ordinances in place within the City of North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach.

Mark Kruea, the spokesperson for Myrtle Beach, said he understands the county's concerns.

"With being a mobile unit, there is the question of where would a food truck park. It becomes a problem when they set up shop, or camp out, on the street. That is when we run into issues," Kruea said.

Kruea pointed out Myrtle Beach doesn't have many mobile vendors. However, he said back in the mid-2000s there were many food trucks catering to construction crews working on the high-rise hotels on Ocean Boulevard.

Supporters believe more food trucks would roll into town if the County would approve their operation.

Other council members voiced hesitation over testing out the trucks temporarily.

Councilman Marion Foxworth said he didn't like the idea of the one-year pilot program and wants the county to move slowly forward with a more permanent approach.

"After a [business owner] invests $50,000 into business, we can't tell them to close," he said. "Either do it or don't do it...one year pilot doesn't make sense."

Vice Chairman Jody Prince is one of the three members who said he voted in favor of the pilot program. Along with Prince, Brent Schulz and Bob Grabowski gave the program the green light.

"I, for one, feel that my job as a councilman is to do all that I can to help anyone who wants to start a business in Horry County, to not stand in their way," Grabowski told WMBF News. He added, "This is America, the land of opportunity."

Many council members, regardless of how they voted, do agree on one thing: they would like to see the topic brought back to the table.

During the council meeting on Monday morning, the infrastructure and regulation committee was supposed to discuss an amendment to the pilot program to allow packaged and prepared foods. They deferred the conversation until November so they could prepare. Stay tuned to WMBF news for the latest developments.

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