NORTH SMITHFIELD – Members of the North Smithfield Town Council waived municipal permit fees for four food trucks this week, expected to appear at multiple town events over the summer months.
The trucks will attend Concerts on the Common, a long-running concert series cancelled in 2020, returning this year at a new location. The concerts, which generally take place on Sundays through July and August, will be held on Town Hall grounds instead of by the Slatersville Congregational Church, on what used to be a baseball field at the former Kendall Dean School.
Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski told NRI NOW the new location offers more parking and space for the events, and is generally safer than the church intersection.
The food vendors will also appear at a fireworks display scheduled for Saturday, July 10 at the Paul F. Joyce Athletic Field.
Sunnyside on the Street owner Anthony Soly made the case to councilors for waving the $75 event fees, noting that the rules and application process vary across communities in Rhode Island.
“What I found in a lot of small towns is, business-wise, it’s not lucrative to set up in the town day to day,” Soly said. “When you have a one day event and there’s a $75 permit fee, it’s usually not lucrative enough for multiple food trucks to come in.”
Soly, who started the business selling breakfast foods last year, noted that since his truck was permitted in Providence, he can pull up any day and serve on the side of the road.
“In North Smithfield, I have to give you a date, an address and a time to be serving,” Soly said. “The way the ordinance is written, you have to get permission for every day from the Town Council.”
The vendor noted that all sales tax from any day he does business in North Smithfield already goes to the town.
Councilor Paul Vadenais pointed out that all of the trucks must also obtain a permit from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“That’s a requirement. We can’t waive that requirement,” Vadenais said.
In addition to Soly’s truck, the waiver was approved for three additional vendors: Mickey G’s Clamcakes; The ISH, which serves polish and Irish fusion cuisine; and Smoke & Barbecue.
Council Vice President Kimberly Alves asked if the opportunities for food trucks had been advertised.
Town Council President John Beauregard, who is planning the fireworks display, and brought forward the motion to waive fees, said both he and Parks & Recreation Director Kate Pasquariello are satisfied using just the four.
“We tried to get a variety, and none of these are duplicating each other,” Beauregard said. “I’m comfortable with the selection, She’s also very comfortable working with these trucks on a rotating basis.”
Pasquariello said she does not plan to schedule more than two at a time for any of the concerts.
Soly noted that he also sent Beauregard the information for an, “ice truck,” that may want to attend.
Vadenais said that the motion to waive the fees does not necessarily make the events exclusive to the four vendors.
“It doesn’t mean there can’t be anyone else,” Vadenais said. “Somebody else has to come forward and say ‘I want to be there too.'”