Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu, center, holds her younger son, Tiandy Gu, 3, while standing with her husband, Linjie Gu, their other son, Tianky Gu, 6, and Lu’s mother, Xiurong Wang, in front of their food truck, from which they plan to serve traditional Chinese food at PoPo’s Food Truck Court, if their proposal is approved by the Waterville Planning Board. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Planning Board members scrutinized plans Tuesday for a food truck court off Kennedy Memorial Drive, particularly in light of the fact the city does not have an ordinance regulating such operations.

Waterville has a food truck ordinance, but with up to 10 food trucks proposed for the new court, planners said they wanted to carefully consider whether the space would be adequate to accommodate the trucks, parking for customers and workers and space for customers to sit and eat.

It would be the city’s first food truck court. Working out the initial bugs will likely occur as the owner, Zhanpo “PoPo” Lu, begins to operate the business, officials conceded.

“This is a new thing,” said Jeff Allen, an engineer with A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers, who represented the project Tuesday. “This is actually the first food truck court that I’ve ever done.”

The plans that Allen presented were considered an informal preapplication review. If the board has a quorum July 23, a final plan is expected to be presented for consideration.

Lu, 38, and her husband, Linjie Gu, 32, are seeking to launch PoPo’s Food Truck Court on a vacant lot at 121 Kennedy Memorial Drive. They plan to serve traditional Chinese food and lease space to other food truck owners.


The couple own the half-acre lot on Kennedy Memorial Drive and an adjoining lot behind it, off Merryfield Avenue, which they plan to use for food truck employee parking. Combined, the lots total about 1.25 acres.

Streets behind the proposed lot, such as Merryfield Avenue, Carver Street, Brigham Street and Yeaton Street, are in a residential area. The proposed food truck court would be across the road from Prompto 10 Minute Oil Change and Aroma Joe’s Coffee, near the main entrance and exit for JFK Plaza on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Allen said the food trucks would be situated around the perimeter of the lot facing Kennedy Memorial Drive, with traffic entering off KMD and exiting right only onto that road. Water and sewer would be connected to a small building to be built on the front of the lot, he said. The food truck court would close at 8 p.m., which is required by the property’s zoning.

Board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick said she was concerned about maneuverability of the trucks in and out of the lot because they would remain on-site for varying periods of time. She recommended having fewer than 10 food trucks to accommodate the space needs.

Like other board members, Burdick said she loves the idea of having a food truck court, but she had many questions, including how it will work if a food truck wants to leave the site and has to maneuver around other trucks.

Allen said there would be about 8 feet between trucks and they would pivot to be moved off-site either on their own or by being towed. This would occur only when there are no customers at the food truck court, he said.


Burdick and others told Allen they need to see various features on the site plan when he returns next month, including picnic spaces.

Board member Hilary Koch said she was not in favor of having picnic spaces on the site because they would encourage people to sit and eat. Instead, Koch said, customers should be encouraged to buy food and leave.

Burdick said she disagreed with Koch, and if Burdick were to meet friends there to dine, they would want to spend time at the site.

Board member David Johnson agreed with Burdick, saying he lives within walking distance of the site and would not want to just pick up food and walk back home.

Koch, who noted afterward she does not live near the site, also asked about noise that would be generated from the food truck court, likening the sounds of food trucks to those at a fair.

Lu said she would provide electricity to truck operators so there would be no need for them to use loud generators.


Allen said a stockade fence is planned for the right side of the lot to obscure headlights from neighboring properties, and the fence should help block noise. A fence could also be installed on the left side of the lot, he said.

Board member Tom DePre asked if large delivery trucks would enter the site.

Lu said they would not, adding that vendors would bring food to the site.

Lu said she did not want to use the lot facing Merryfield Avenue for food trucks because she is sensitive to the needs of neighbors and does not want to bother them.

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