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News Maryland Baltimore County Catonsville

Food truck's time at Halethorpe MARC station short-lived

Less than 25 days after Stephanie and Dominick Greco began parking their new food truck at the Halethorpe MARC train station, they were asked to leave.

Stephanie and Dominick Greco opened their train-themed food truck, Get Food Go, at the Halethorpe MARC station on Southwestern Boulevard on Aug. 21.

On Sept. 12, the Maryland State Highway Administration told them they couldn't come back.

Stephanie Greco, a Catonsville native, said an SHA representative told the couple a complaint had been made that their truck's generator was too loud.

After the complaint went through, SHA told Greco and her husband that they did not have the proper permit to be parked along a state-owned road, which Southwestern Boulevard (Route 1) is.

The ruling caught the couple by surprise, since they had obtained a permit from the county they thought allowed them to serve commuters at the station.

"When you look up what you need to run a food truck, it doesn't say a thing about state roads or state permits," Greco said.

David Buck, a spokesman for SHA, said there are two separate types of permits a vendor can get: one from the state, and one from the county.

He said a county permit allows people like the Grecos to park on the side of county road and sell almost anything, from Ravens gear to food.

But only seafood and produce vendors can obtain a permit to sell on a state-owned road.

"The regulations that we have, and this is by law, this isn't something that's just State Highway [Administration], it's only produce and seafood," Buck said.

Those vendors are only allowed on state roads that have a speed limit of 35 mph or less, Buck said.

The speed limit on Southwestern Boulevard at the train station is 40 mph.

"I don't know the reasoning behind the law, we just apply the law," he said.

Because there are no state regulations specifically for food trucks, Buck said Greco and her husband would have to consult with state elected officials for any additions to existing legislation.

"Obviously, food trucks have only been a phenomenon for the past several years," he said. "Cities, where they are more prominent, have had to come up with rules and regulations to govern them.

"It [state law] does not address food trucks," he said. "If they want the law changed, they will have to talk to their officials."

Del. James Malone Jr., who represents the area, said he understood why the state law exists, and also how the Grecos could have been confused about where they were allowed to sell their food.

"I know, being a legislator and being in Annapolis, I knew what it meant," Malone said.

"When she read it to me, I could understand where there could be a misunderstanding," he said. "After I talked with her, what have you, she understood.

"The county has their laws, the state has their laws," he said.

Malone said he thinks the seafood and produce specifications help narrow the field of potential vendors along state roads, which, he said, is a safety concern.

"If people could do [sell] anything," Malone said. "Can you imagine how many people would be down at the MARC train station?"

Though they designed their business around selling breakfast and lunch at the MARC station, Stephanie Greco said she and her husband are going to keep their options open for future venues.

"It frees us up a lot to move around and get more exposure really," she said on having to move from the Halethorpe station.

Potential future spots include by the UPS warehouse in Violetville, a business park in Owings Mills and possibly even the Park and Ride lot along South Rolling Road in Catonsville.

They have also been featured at events like the Sept. 8 Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival.

"I'm worried about winter," Greco said. "I need to make sure that all my [new] spots are lucrative enough to get us through the winter.

"We want to run through the winter though because this is our livelihood," she said. "If I can just keep the events rolling and people calling me, I think we'll be good."

Despite the hardships, Greco said she and her husband are keeping a positive outlook on the future of their business.

"At first, we were really bummed, we were really mad," she said. "We always have the mantra that things always happen for a reason.

"There's got to be some reason why we're just not meant to be over there at that MARC train," she said. "I think everything will work out."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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