Saturday, February 24, 2024

Council expands opportunities for food trucks within Williamsburg city limits

FoodaTude... Food with Attitude had steady business Friday until the rain came in after Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers performed at Funhouse Fest Friday. Truck owner Jim Kennedy said business could have been better than the second-annual Funhouse Fest last year, if this year's festival didn't have rain. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
FoodaTude… Food with Attitude had steady business at Funhouse Fest in 2018. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

Change is coming to Williamsburg’s food truck policies.

After a public hearing Thursday, City Council voted unanimously to pass updated policies on food truck operation in the city limits, effectively expanding the zoning districts where food trucks can operate.

“We have come a considerable way in allowing food trucks in a manner that’s based on a discussion in the working group… we came up with what I believe to be a good ordinance,” Councilman Doug Pons said. “I like what I see today.”

The policies were proposed by a food truck work group, which was launched in 2017 by City Council to establish a comprehensive food truck policy.

Food truck owners and operators have previously described the city’s policies on food trucks as restrictive, causing trucks to take their business to the surrounding counties.

Councilwoman Barbara Ramsey said she believed the new ordinance was a “fair and reasonable solution.

The code of the City of Williamsburg previously restricted the operation of food trucks to special events on public property and in the Culinary Arts District on Capitol Landing Trail, which is largely populated by hotels and motels.

RELATED STORY: Operators are cautiously optimistic about new ideas for Williamsburg’s food truck policy. Here’s why

The new zoning ordinance defines “food truck” and expands the number of zoning districts the trucks can be in.

A map shows the area food trucks will now be allowed, per an ordinance passed by City Council Thursday. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)
A map shows the non-residential areas where food trucks will now be allowed, per an ordinance passed by City Council Thursday. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)

With the new proposal, food trucks would need a 100-foot restaurant buffer requirement in certain zoning districts. A food truck must park at least 100 feet away from an existing restaurant when serving outside of private events, unless 75 percent of restaurant owners in the district agree the food truck can be inside the buffer.

City Manager Andrew Trivette said city staff looked to other localities across the country for examples on food truck policy. The buffer requirements varied widely, but the “permissive buffer” was a practice in some localities.

Trucks would also need a business license in the city, fire department inspection prior to obtaining a business license, and a fire department inspection each day of operation.

Food trucks would be able to operate in residential-zoned areas for up to two special events each year on each land parcel.

The Palace Farms property will also allow food trucks, although the rest of that zoning area — Museum Support — will not.

The newly-adopted ordinance does not change the approval process for special events on public property, Trivette said, because he is tasked with approving those.

He said he would “strongly consider” the 100-foot buffer while considering special event permits in the area around other restaurants.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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