Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Proposed rules for ice cream trucks may be revised

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A proposed city ordinance putting tough restrictions on ice cream truck operators in Cincinnati may be rewritten after it ran into stiff opposition from ice cream truck owners and some city council members.

        After an hour-and-a-half public hearing Tuesday where a dozen speakers argued for and against the proposed ordinance, its sponsor, Councilman Chris Monzel, said he would meet with representatives of the mobile food businesses to see if a compromise could be worked out.

        Councilman John Cranley, chairman of the law and public safety committee where Tuesday's hearing was held, told Mr. Monzel he hoped that “whatever you work is done voluntarily, instead of by ordinance.”

        Mr. Monzel's proposed ordinance would require fingerprinting and criminal background checks of all drivers hired to operate the ice cream trucks that cruise city neighborhoods in the spring and summer and restrict the hours of operation from 10 a.m. until sunset.

        The new law was proposed because some neighborhood council leaders — particularly those in North Avondale and Avondale — have complained about excessive noise from the music played by the trucks and argue that they endanger neighborhood children.

        Tom Simonds, owner of Captain Tom's Ice Cream, a Lockland-based firm that operates about 25 trucks inside the city limits, argued Tuesday that his business is self-regulating — that he already checks the backgrounds of his employees and always has the trucks back in his Lockland Lot by 10 p.m.

        “I just don't know why we are talking about this,” Mr. Simonds said.

        Some of Mr. Monzel's colleagues on the law and public safety committee apparently did not know why either.

Captain Tom's Ice Cream owner Tom Simonds.
        “I feel uncomfortable about creating another level of bureaucracy,” said Councilwoman Minette Cooper.

        Mr. Cranley said most of the problems cited by neighborhood residents could be dealt with under the city's existing “peddler law” and anti-noise ordinance.

        “I'll keep an open mind about this, but the last thing we need to do is to create impediments to small business,” Mr. Cranley said.

        Mr. Monzel emphasized his proposal was a “draft ordinance” and could be rewritten to satisfy both sides.

        “I'm not trying to deprive our children of a valuable service,” Mr. Monzel said.

        The law committee took no action on Mr. Monzel's proposal Tuesday.

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