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New regulations could bring more fresh produce sales to underserved areas

Posted Jan. 27, 2016

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Fresh produce could become more readily available in Fort Worth neighborhoods if changes to city regulations are approved.

Amendments to both the City Code and the zoning ordinance for mobile vendors and pushcarts have been proposed to allow vendors to sell fresh produce in residential areas. The amendments support a Blue Zones Project initiative to bring fresh produce to residents in underserved areas where few stores provide healthy food choices. The amendments also support the Plan4Health Tarrant County collaborative, which received an American Planning Association grant to improve access to fresh, local food in three southeast Fort Worth ZIP codes.

Produce is currently allowed to be sold by mobile vendors and pushcarts, but only in nonresidential zoning districts.

Proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance would create a fresh market mobile vendor category with limits on the products that could be sold. To be considered a fresh market mobile vendor, no less than 75 percent of the inventory should be fresh produce; the remainder can be prepackaged foods.

The changes would allow produce sales from a mobile vendor on vacant lots in nonresidential districts with the permission of the property owner. They would also allow sales in residential zoning districts on property used for nonresidential purposes such as schools and churches, but not on vacant lots. Fresh market mobile vendors would also be permitted to function as a transient vendor — in one place less than 60 minutes — and as an on-street vendor, similar to the requirements of an ice cream truck.

On Feb. 10, the Zoning Commission will conduct a hearing and vote on the proposed amendments. The City Council is scheduled to conduct hearings and votes on the amendments on March 1.

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