Food trucks not coming to JCC any time soon

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The Norfolk-based Karnage Asada is the first food truck to apply for a permit to operate regularly in York County. (Image courtesy of Karnage Asada)
The Norfolk-based Karnage Asada is the first food truck to apply for a permit to operate regularly in York County. (Image courtesy of Karnage Asada)

It could be year’s end before James City County rolls out a policy regarding food trucks.

Currently the businesses are not listed as a permitted or specially permitted use in any of the county’s zoning districts and are not defined anywhere in the county’s Zoning Ordinance.

In April, the James City County Board of Supervisors formally started the conversation on permitting food trucks in the county’s industrial parks by instructing staff to bring potential zoning amendments to the Planning Commission.

At a meeting Thursday, the Commission’s policy committee discussed a draft ordinance which would determine how the county regulates food trucks, including health and fire inspections, consent for property use, noise level and signage, and distance from existing restaurants.

For Jim Kennedy, owner of FoodaTude food truck and a former member of the JCC Board of Supervisors, the concern lies less in the regulations and more in the time it has taken to adopt them.

“We’ve lost a lot of time and will continue to lose time,” he said. “Small business people such as myself, we don’t have deep pockets like a McDonald’s or a Lowe’s or a Walmart that can have continuous deferrals.”

Chef Jim Kennedy (foreground) and sous-chef Garrett Bartlett (background) prepare food in the FoodaTude truck July 7. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Chef Jim Kennedy (foreground) and sous-chef Garrett Bartlett (background) prepare food in the FoodaTude truck July 7. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

James City County will hold a public meeting to discuss the most recent draft of the ordinance on Aug. 25. Following the public comment period, the draft must be submitted for review during the Sept. 15 policy committee meeting before it can move to the planning commission for a vote.

“It looks like the fastest track that this particular ordinance would operate on would be going to the planning commission in October and the Board of Supervisors in November,” said policy committee chairman Rich Krapf.

When it comes to food trucks, the county has been moving slower than surrounding jurisdictions. In January, the York County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance that allows food trucks on developed and occupied private properties. The Williamsburg City Council asked city staff last year to begin research on the potential for successful food truck operation in the city.

“What’s concerning to me is the scrutiny that food trucks are facing in James City County and I’ll say that out loud, it’s just James City County,” Kennedy said.

According to Kennedy, there are currently five food trucks based in James City County, three of which have been purchased in the past month. In order to operate legally within the county, they have to contract out their business as a flat rate catering service. To sell food on a per customer basis, they have to travel to surrounding counties.

“I’m a resident of James City County, I represented James City County and I’d like to see some of those tax dollars stay in James City County,” Kennedy said.

However slowly Kennedy believes the county is moving, it is still taking steps toward allowing food trucks. Initially, the county proposed three zoning districts for food trucks: the M-1 Limited Business/Industrial zoning, the M-2 General Industrial zoning and the PUD-C Planned Unit and Development-Commercial zoning. Now the Board of Supervisors has requested that staff also consider ordinance language which would permit food trucks on land zoned PL or Public Land.

“I know for a long time there was a great reluctance from our Board of Supervisors to even entertain the idea of food trucks,” said policy committee member Heath Richardson. “So James City County, for good or ill, is moving forward by virtue of us even talking about this.”

Click here to read the full draft of the ordinance.

A public meeting will be held to address JCC’s food truck policy on Aug. 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Building D of the James City County Government Center on 101 Mounts Bay Road.

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