Food Truck Regulations Bring Property-Rights Claim

Jacksonville, North Carolina adopted several food truck regulations that brought many legal challenges.  One of those regulations was to ban food trucks on any property that sits within 250 feet of property with a brick-and-mortar restaurant or residential housing.  There is another regulation which bans food trucks from operating within 250 feet of each other.

Within Jacksonville’s city limits open to food trucks, potential operators face other barriers.

Another challenged regulation involves advertising.  Food trucks are limited to one sign no taller or wider than five feet.  The sign can have no external lights.  It can’t sit atop the food truck.  It must be displayed within 20 feet of the truck.

An additional targeted rule hits food truck operators in the wallet.  Jacksonville residents must pay an annual $300 permit fee to operate a food truck within the city.  Out-of-towners have to pay $500 a year.

Unlike most food truck lawsuits, this one adds property rights to more common claims involving economic liberty.  It is an inverse condemnation claim.

Article I, the state constitution’s Declaration of Rights, spells out North Carolinians’ “inalienable” rights, including “life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The word “property” is absent from the list, but the property-rights claim marks an interesting addition to a case that also addresses the “fruits” of labor.

It is unclear how far the lawsuit will go.

Posted in Food Truck, Inverse Condemnation, Property Rights, Regulatory Taking
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