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York County is one vote away from tapping into an industry that is expected to generate $2.7 billion in annual revenue nationwide by 2018.
The York County Planning Commission offered its support of the proposal to expand the allowance of food trucks beyond special events with a 5-0 vote Wednesday. Commissioners Todd Mathes (District 4) and Richard Myer Jr. (District 5) were not in attendance.
Currently, food trucks are only allowed during special events.
Before food trucks can deploy throughout the county, the Board of Supervisors must approve the proposal.
Earl Anderson, a county planner, said the county’s efforts to change the policy stem from a local interest to have a “more open” mobile vending policy. The proposal comes after about a year of research that included discussions with local business owners, the county’s Economic Development Authority and food truck owners who operate throughout the region.
The ordinance change would permit food trucks on developed and occupied property throughout the county with the exception of residential zones. Mixed-use properties would be able to host a food truck as long as the truck is 100 feet from a residence – a distance required throughout the county in the new policy.
“[Mobile vending] is a growing business … It’s an upwardly mobile business,” said Earl Anderson, a county planner. “We’ve had a lot of interest locally, specifically from our microbreweries.”
Anderson said the Virginia Beer Company, which is slated to open on Second Street in York County in early 2016, is including a mobile food vending parking space on-site in anticipation of food trucks being allowed in more areas of the county more often.
Food truck owners must obtain an administrative permit, a York County business license and a health permit before they can operate within the county. The administrative permit would be good for one year, which can be renewed through a written request from the person who previously obtained the permit.
The new policy requires food truck operators to have written consent from property owners where they park their trucks. That consent must be kept on the truck, which can only operate within the property’s business hours, to be available to zoning inspectors upon request.
“I think [the new policy has] things we need to have a balance and some safeguards, yet still provide business opportunities. These are business-friendly conditions that we have here. I think we’ll learn as we go and we’ll change some things to make it better. … $2.7 billion annual industry, I got excited there,” said Montgoussaint Jons (District 1), referring to the 2013 American Planning Association Zoning Practice report cited in the memo about the policy.
Sue Patton, owner of the Aldrich House Bed & Breakfast in the City of Williamsburg, said during Wednesday night’s public hearing that she and her son are interested in operating a food truck and have already talked with York County breweries AleWerks Brewing and Virginia Beer Company about the possibility of selling from their properties.
“They are very excited about doing [business with us],” Patton said. “We’ve also talked with some people in James City County that would like to see this happen also, so we were extremely tickled to see that you guys were at this stage.”
Currently, the City of Williamsburg explicitly prohibits food trucks except during special events. James City County does not include food trucks in their ordinances, which means they are not allowed.
Williamsburg’s City Council has recently expressed interest in expanding its food truck policy, but tweaking that policy has not been discussed publicly since council’s August retreat.
With the Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval, the new policy proposal now moves to the York County Board of Supervisors.