For more than a year a familiar site on the south side of the Guilford Green, right across the street from the iconic Page Hardware store, has been the Taqueria Cinco food truck.
The truck is now located about a quarter-mile away on the less-traveled, north end of the town Green, across the street from the Congregational Church.
Many fans of the food truck are unhappy about the move, but state officials say the truck had been operating in violation of state regulations in its previous location.
The south end of the Green is actually a state road (Route 146).
Some have speculated in news stories and social media websites in Guilford that the truck was forced to move because of new, tougher state regulations.
Not so, says Kevin Nursick, a Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesperson.
“Nothing has changed with law or regulations,” Nursick said. “What is true — and what has been true since the law in existence was passed in the 1970s — is you can’t operate a business on state roadways.”
Nursick said if the state had known that Taqueria Cinco had been operated on Route 146 for the past year, it would have acted sooner. “But, we didn’t [know],” he said.
Taqueria Cinco’s manager, Ben Carvente, said he would prefer to be operating back in his old location. “I’m hoping that I may be able to move back to the other side of the Green where I started in a few weeks,” Carvente said. “That would be nice.”
“The good news,” Carvente added, however, “is that my customers have been very loyal. They have made a point of traveling across the Green to come to my truck and wishing me the best in my new location.”
Carvente said he was still under the impression that if he applied for a “special” permit to operate the food truck, or what many refer to as an “encroachment” permit, he could return to the Route 146 location. He said he was considering doing so.
Currently he does not have an “encroachment” permit.
But Nursick reiterated that an encroachment permit wouldn’t give Carvente the right to move his truck back to Route 146.
Guilford Police Chief Jeff Hutchinson said the fact the state is saying now that the food truck can’t operate, with or without any special permit, makes the town’s police department job in the matter easier.
“We have a responsibility to follow the law,” Hutchinson said. “If the state is saying businesses can’t operate on state roads, we will enforce the law.”
In the middle of the flap over the location of this one food truck, Guilford is also currently considering making changes to the Peddling and Zoning Ordinance to include regulations for food truck vendors.
The proposed changes would possibly place limitations on hours of operation, noise, and offer other possible locations for food trucks around town including Jacobs Beach, Lake Quonnipaug, Town Hall, and the Marina.
Food truck controversies are not a new issue on the shoreline.
In nearby Madison, town officials spent many meetings in 2015 listening to supporters and opponents of food trucks in the center of town argue whether the trucks were a good fit for the town’s image.
Supporters of the trucks even held a Food Truck Appreciation Day in April of 2015 in support of the vendors.
The debate, in Madison, has simmered in recent months, and several food trucks operate daily in front of the old Academy Street School.
One of those trucks is operated by Carvente’s brother, Nicolas.