Brewery has signatures but awaits town meeting to be allowed food trucks

Beer, beer, beer — and food!

The Nod Hill Brewery and its supporters have enough petition signatures to call a town meeting that would consider amending town ordinances to allow food trucks at the Route 7 brewery.

Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi verified that the petition effort by the brewery had reach 2% of the town’s 18,165 registered voters.

She said, “364 is the required amount they need, and I verified 393 signatures.”

The town charter says petitioners reaching the 2% are entitled to a public hearing and town meeting within 45 days.

Even when petitioned, a town meeting is called by the Board of Selectmen.

“We acknowledge receipt and then within 45 days we have to call a town meeting,” FIrst Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

But the board hasn’t gotten the latest petitions.

“The town clerk has not submitted them to Board of Selectmen. I don’t have them,” Marconi said.

“I do know a while ago the petitions were verified, but there is something additional that’s needed to be part of the petition, according to legal counsel,” Marconi said.

There were two people circulating the petitions.

“One of the people is not a resident, although he’s an owner of the business. The other person, she is a resident, but didn’t put her name on the petition, although she was part of the circulation, so we need to get her to sign each petition,” Marconi said.

He presumes the circulator will come in and sign by the selectmen’s June 20 meeting.

“What we will do, probably on the 20th, is accept and then call a date for a town meeting,” he said.

The brewery seeks to amend the town’s vendor ordinance, which has a prohibition against vendors setting up for more than 15 minutes in a given spot.

When the ordinance was adopted in 2016 there was concern that food trucks could set up near “brick and mortar” restaurants and have a competitive advantage without the burdens of rent and taxes. Two long-established vendors were “grandfathered” to continue in at their locations as legal exceptions to the rule — Chez Lenard on Main Street and the Zwack Shack on Route 7 — but food trucks generally are prohibited from setting up more than 15 minutes in one spot.

A goal of the amendment was to protect the town’s many “brick and mortar” restaurants — which are part of the town’s commercial tax base — from low-overhead competition offered by food trucks and carts. The rule was adopted after a food truck began setting up regularly in the Party Depot parking lot, near many restaurants on Danbury Road, Route 35.

Attorney Bob Jewell, who drafted the proposed amendment for the brewery, said allowing food trucks at the brewery’s location, would be a very different proposition.

It’s out of sight from the road, on a fairly empty stretch of Route 7, he said, and would enhance an existing brick and mortar business — the Nod Hill Brewery.