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East County Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 1 week ago

Food trucks may soon be allowed in some Lakewood Ranch communities

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The Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 2 will vote soon on allowing food trucks to special events.
by: Scott Lockwood Staff Writer

If you live in Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 2, which includes a section of the Country Club and Edgewater, and intend on holding a social-type function, you’ll likely be able to add a food truck to those plans.

Last year, a group of CDD 2 residents were interested in inviting food trucks into their community to provide refreshments to an outdoor gathering of the residents. This issue was brought to the CDD-2 Board and discussed before the Board ruled that the food truck would not be allowed to park on district roads. 

“The basis of the decision was related to the COVID pandemic and the concern of actively drawing crowds in close proximity," CDD 2 Board Member Mike Finney said

Finney said at the time there was not the availability of a vaccine and the virus was rapidly spreading. With a vaccine now widely available, COVID cases on a downward trend, and the resumption of outdoor activities in Florida, the CDD 2 board decided to reopen the discussion about allowing food trucks into district common areas.

Board member Jerry Twiggs raised an issue about how the food trucks could affect traffic, including the possibility of blocking emergency vehicle access. The board decided food truck parking could be sorted through the approval process and traffic shouldn’t be disturbed.

CDD 2 Board Chair Peter Bokach said he would be in favor of a single food truck at an event and not “a parade of food trucks.” He went on to say that a food truck wouldn’t violate any anti-solicitation rules because the food trucks are different than anyone else wanting to come into a community to solicit business.

Food trucks will have their licenses checked and will have communities named on the food truck’s liability insurance. 

Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority Interim Executive Director Steve Zielinski said he will use the points brought up in the discussion to craft a set of rules regarding a singular food truck to be allowed into communities for events. The CDD 2 board would then review requests and a final vote will be taken at a meeting in the near future.

“We don't want a caravan of food trucks,” he said. “It’s a singular kind of event. Yeah, so I'm going to have to craft that to acknowledge what the board wanted to see. And that basically is to allow the food truck parked on the street, delivering the products to a group of people in the common area.”

Zielinski said that other neighborhoods outside of Edgewater might like to have food trucks allowed in as well. 

“It might go from nobody else asking for it in any other neighborhoods within CDD 2 to suddenly everybody wants to say they want them,” he said. “What's interesting about Edgewater Village is they have a lot of areas where they have common areas that are able to handle things like that. But if you go into, say CDD 5, there's no areas where they really can be. So that's why it looks a little different.”

In other action, CDD’s 2, 5, and 6 held a joint workshop regarding gate access to Lakewood Ranch Country Club on Nov. 18. The main point of contention between the three boards — as well as most of the audience that filled every seat inside Lakewood Ranch Town Hall — was the access gate on Balmoral Woods Avenue and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. The three CDD’s share expenses to the five gates to Lakewood Ranch Country Club, but the Balmoral gate rests inside CDD 6.

CDD 6 Chairman James Rogoze suggested a traffic study on the gate, which often backs up traffic onto Lakewood Ranch Boulevard during morning hours. That gate also is open to visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day, whereas the other manned gate on Legacy Boulevard allows 24-hour access to visitors. The three other gates to Lakewood Ranch Country Club grant access to homeowners with transmitters attached to their vehicles.

The hours on the Balmoral gate are controlled by CDD 6. Briar Creek resident Mike Miller led a large contingent of the audience that agreed on making access among the gates equal for the entire community.

“We should not have policies that give preferred access or restricted access or one CDD rule versus another,” he said. “Since the roads are public, and all access in and out is videotaped, the gate should be manned during the same hours as the Legacy gate and simply be open anytime. There are some other ongoing gate issues such as allowing visiting vehicles to exit from the several unmanned gates. I think there would be support for that by some owners...but again, the CDDs really haven't engaged the homeowners on those kinds of issues.”

Rogoze said that the CDD 6 board will add the issue of the Balmoral gate hours to its December agenda for further discussion.

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