Over the last few years, the city of Grand Rapids has totally reinvented itself. Originally built off of the furniture industry, Grand Rapids was always a self-made city. But with the introduction of mega-events like ArtPrize and an even stronger sense of community among it’s people, Grand Rapids has made the transition from Michigan’s forgotten furniture giant and has once again become something of it’s own advent; a not-so-little-anymore city that appreciates uncharted waters, the act of pioneering in itself.

From vintage shops to eateries, Grand Rapids has a huge emphasis on its local community and business owners – so in light of the recent debate about whether or not to pass a local ordinance calling for the introduction of mobile concession stands, or food trucks, the fears over an eventual toppling of preexisting “brick-and-mortar” restaurants seems a little over-protective.

Those in support of the ordinance, which is a newly revised version of an initial proposal that was tabled in December, think the introduction of food trucks in Grand Rapids is another step into transitioning into a more culturally vibrant city. Those who oppose it say that it has the potential to dramatically thin out the customer-base for an area already heavily concentrated with (some) struggling local businesses.

Now, no one at the Lanthorn has ever been a local business owner, nor do we claim to be, so the monetary matters involved may admittedly be beyond our ability to conceptualize, but it seems highly unlikely that the ordinance would perpetuate a big enough catalyst to make any fatal hemorrhage to the restaurants and eateries that aren’t mobile.

Some opponents to the ordinance also worry about how food trucks might make the city look tacky over time, or that they might spur more littering in the city and start to weigh down Grand Rapids’ aesthetics. Though, again, that kind of concern is valid to a point, it seems like an over-dramatization to give a food truck ordinance it’s own foreboding slippery slope.

Besides, the ordinance seems pretty balanced, dictating than any food trucks or mobile concession stands in Grand Rapids would be required to acquire Special Land Use approval by the planning commission that includes an open hearing for the public to voice any potential concerns the vendor might have on the surrounding community as well as approval from the Kent County Health Department – measures that seems democratic and fair in their approach. Vendors would only be allowed to operate on underutilized private lots for 200 consecutive days per year – so it doesn’t sound like food trucks will be flooding on to the streets with hot dog wrappers and critters rolling through Monroe Center like tumbleweed.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission has already recommended the approval of the revised ordinance, which will have it’s final hearing on June 12.

Grand Rapids it’s a city filled with giant novelty sculptures, massive warehouse sized mural art that hosts a free citywide swing dancing lesson every Tuesday evening that it’s warm – this is what we do. So, in what news websites like have called “The Great Food Truck Debate,” the citizens and business owners of Grand Rapids should do what they do best – embrace the new with optimism, and see where it goes from there.