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Savannah OKs food trucks, new alcohol rules

Subheadline: 
Young adults can now enjoy live entertainment at bars

  • FILE - Hungry passerbys wait in lines spanning the width of Emmet Park at the Savannah Food Truck Festival Sunday. (Will Peebles/Savannah Morning News)

Many business owners, food lovers and those seeking more entertainment options in Savannah are ready to rejoice as the City Council finally adopted two long-awaited resolutions Thursday.

The council's OK means food trucks will soon be appearing throughout the city, and young adults will be able to enjoy live entertainment acts in local watering holes.

The council’s actions during the meeting included:

  • Approval of an ordinance to allow for the operation of food trucks on private property in commercial, mixed-use, industrial and institutional zones - as long as they are 200 feet from a restaurant - and in designated public spaces during limited hours and special events.
  • Approval of a revised alcohol ordinance that allows caterers to serve alcohol; business such as salons to provide complimentary glasses of wine or beer; and bar owners to open their businesses to 18- to 20-year-olds during live entertainment performances.
  • Approval of the rezoning of about 342 acres in the Highlands community for the development of distribution warehouses.
  • Approval of a zoning change to allow the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless to move forward with its plan to develop a tiny house community for homeless veterans.
  • Approval of the issuance of $8 million in bonds to pay for streetscape improvements to Broughton, Bay and River streets.
  • Approval of a $37,000 purchase of 25 public safety cameras from GC&E Systems Group.

After passage of the food truck ordinance, Ryan Giannoni, president of the Savannah Food Truck Association, said many of the truck owners such as himself have made huge investments in their mobile enterprises. Thursday’s vote will help the entrepreneurs, many who have been struggling to find jobs while the ordinance was developed, to to earn a living, Giannoni said.

“Honestly, I don’t want to be dramatic, but it’s probably the biggest day in our lives,” he said.

The city plans to announce on Friday the date of a meeting to outline the rules and application process for food truck operators, according to city officials. The plan is to open food truck applications in 30 days and hold the first lottery on Oct. 1, which will grant the winning food trucks opportunities to operate in certain designated public areas such as Daffin Park, said city spokesman Bret Bell.

The new alcohol regulations are expected to go into effect at the start of next year.

Some of the City Council members voted on the food truck ordinance and alcohol ordinance, despite some concerns about the changes, with the understanding they could adjust the regulations if any issues develop.

Alderman John Hall expressed some reservations about allowing food trucks to operate on Savannah-Chatham County Public School grounds, despite the fact they would have to be given permission first. In addition, Hall said he thought the $150 permit fee was too low.

Alderman Van Johnson also said he was concerned the council was adopting new regulations pertaining to alcohol without establishing a vision for what type of city they wanted Savannah to be.

“We end up piecemealing and catering to certain groups here and there and don’t really achieve anything,” Johnson said.

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