ROCK SPRINGS — For now, it appears the Hand Up Food Cart will remain at its current location with some changes being made to meet city ordinances.
During the Rock Springs City Council meeting tonight, several residents spoke in favor of the Hand Up Food Cart, which provides donated food goods and other items to residents in need.
The Hand Up Food Cart is run by Laurie and Glenn Davis, with the help of their friend Alicia Johnson, at 1049 Truman Street in Rock Springs. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. seven days a week and is a way to provide residents in need to food another option.
It was brought to the Council’s attention through numerous complaints that the Hand Up Food Cart was operating without a home occupation permit. It’s against city ordinance to have food and other items set up in a driveway for a long periods of time.
“I’d kind of like to know how I can keep my food cart going,” Laurie said at the meeting.
She said her nonprofit food cart helps families in need so they can eat and she wants to do everything she can to keep it going.
“It’s done out of our home in our driveway right now,” Glenn said.
Mayor Tim Kaumo said he spoke with Laurie on May 21 and they come up with several options that would allow her to continue her service, so he didn’t understand what wasn’t working.
“You seemed to be OK with that, as always social media is there,” Mayor Kaumo said.
“We’re here to find out exactly how she has to operate to keep this running,” Glenn said.
The food bank, the Eagles, the American Legion, were all mentioned as possible options for the couple, as well as just moving the items inside of the garage so the neighbors wouldn’t complain, Kaumo said.
“We understand you have a great heart and a great idea. There’s ways to keep this moving, but usually what happens is the city doesn’t go out and look for those issues, it’s usually a complaint,” Kaumo said.
Kaumo and other Councilors received anonymous complaints about the Davis’ nonprofit saying there was an increase in traffic in the neighborhood. He said it’s a residential neighborhood and one can’t have food out on shelves in their driveway in the sun all day long.
Laurie said about 20 to 25 people visit the Davis’ residence every day to pick up or drop off food and other items, such as diapers and baby formula.
“I cannot afford to rent a building to give away free food,” Laurie said.
Laurie is in the process of moving all of donations into a shed in her backyard. This shed also has electricity to keep the fridge and freezer running in order to keep the cold food items, such as meat, milk and eggs, cold. She said a lot of the residents walk down to her property from nearby apartments to obtain food.
Laura Leigh, Rock Springs city planner, said they are in an R-2 zoned district which doesn’t allow for business use. R-2 residential districts are for single-family homes, manufactured homes, an accessory dwelling, model homes or a public park. However, since there is a need for this service in the community, the city felt it would fit under the home occupation ordinance.
Under the home occupation ordinance, “Any use conducted entirely within a dwelling and carried on solely by the occupants thereof, which use is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling for residential purpose and which meets the requirements of this ordinance.”
After much discussion, Mayor Kaumo suggested the couple keep the items inside and run under the home occupation ordinance for now. He also suggested they come up with a plan on how to move forward if this outgrows the couple’s garage and shed. He said the city has to take everyone’s opinions into consideration.
Not only did many residents and friends speak in favor of the Hand Up Food Cart, but they provided possible solutions if the residential location doesn’t work out.
Sonya Gallegos, owner and operator of Hoarder’s Korner, said if the residential location needs another location, she would be happy to help them move it to her business. She has a commercial license and room for residents to park. Gallegos said this is something the community needs, so they must come up with a solution to keep it going.
Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas of the First Congregation Church said she has spoke with her church’s board and they would be willing to help out if needed. However, the location of the church could hinder residents’ abilities to access the food.
Other residents, who were in support of the Davis’, asked questions or voiced their support. Others pointed out the need for a service like this will only continue when the COVID-19 unemployment funding runs out.
The Council also decided to allow residents in the Foothill Crossing Subdivision to “take an active part in the future construction of a neighborhood park adjacent to their homes.”
The Council accepted a professional services contract with Summit Studio to provide historic tax credit compliance consulting and application preparation services for the First Security Bank building. The First Security Bank building is on the National Register of Historic Places and may be eligible for federal historic tax credits, which can be used to help pay for its renovation.
The Council approved the Rock Springs Police Department’s request to apply for a Bulletproof Vest grant. The grant will provide partial funding for the replacement of bulletproof vests, which are expiring for current police officer. It will also help purchase new armor for newly hired officers.
The Council also approved a master equity lease agreement between Enterprise Fleet Management and the City of Rock Springs, for the lease of police vehicles.
For the entire Council meeting, watch the video below.