Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Here are the changes Williamsburg will be considering for its food truck policy

The location on Blair St. where Jim Kennedy and his FoodaTude truck were relocated July 4, 2017. The City asked him to move because Colonial Williamsburg did not apply for a special event permit. (WYDaily/Courtesy Jim Kennedy)
The location on Blair St. where Jim Kennedy and his FoodaTude truck were relocated July 4, 2017. The City asked him to move because Colonial Williamsburg did not apply for a special event permit. (WYDaily/Courtesy Jim Kennedy)

City officials and staff in Williamsburg are reconsidering food truck policies that will give operators more room to roam in the city limits.

City Council launched a Food Truck Work Group in 2017 with a directive to establish a comprehensive food truck policy that meets the needs of residents while “providing a competitive but fair entrepreneurial environment” for food truck vendors and brick-and-mortar restaurant owners alike. The group was composed of city officials and restaurant and food truck owners.

After more than a year of work, the committee has produced recommendations that, if approved by City Council, will loosen regulations on where food trucks can serve.

Currently, food trucks are limited to operating (with a zoning permit) on private property along Capital Landing Road, or in conjunction with a special event on public property.

Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette said the new recommendations, which he presented to the Planning Commission this month, will expand the possibilities for food truck owners.

Two Drummers Offbeat Eats food truck owner Jon Wade is a member of the committee, and said loosening the restrictions is necessary in order for food trucks to visit the city and enhance community events.

“There are things food trucks can provide,” Wade said. “All these Williamsburg events are lacking them, and that says something to our tourists.”

Wade added the new regulations, if imperfect, would be a “game-changer.”

The city’s food truck policy came to the forefront on the Fourth of July in 2017, when three food trucks were told by the city to leave a position on Duke of Gloucester Street because event organizer Colonial Williamsburg failed to apply for the special event permit.

The ordinance became a topic again that fall, when food trucks were prohibited from serving at the Big Bluesy festival by city code, as it was being held on private property.

“Where we’ve run into conflict the most often is when somebody has a piece of private property that’s not in a zoning district that allows food trucks and needs to have an event that features food trucks,” Trivette said.

He added that large public events like Big Bluesy are not the only events for which property owners have been denied food truck service.

“More often than not it’s a small gathering of clubs or groups, and they would love to have a food truck at their business or house, and our current regulations just don’t allow it,” Trivette said.

A slide from interim City Manager Andrew Trivette's presentation to the Planning Commission, which depicts the areas where the Food Truck Workgroup recommends food trucks be permitted to operate. (WYDaily/ Courtesy City of Williamsburg)
A slide from interim City Manager Andrew Trivette’s presentation to the Planning Commission, which depicts the areas where the Food Truck Work Group recommends food trucks be permitted to operate. (WYDaily/ Courtesy City of Williamsburg)

The Food Truck Work Group proposed expanding the territory in which food trucks can serve to encompass much of the Richmond Road corridor, the area in and around Midtown Row, and parts of downtown including Scotland, Lafayette, Boundary and Henry streets.

Wade said after debate, the committee settled on requiring food trucks to park at least 100 feet away from existing downtown brick-and-mortar restaurants when serving outside of private events. Special events will likely require approval by a certain percentage of surrounding restaurants if food trucks will be serving.

Food trucks would still be required to pass inspection from the Williamsburg Fire Department each time they enter the city to serve at an event.

Trivette told the Planning Commission the current permitting process for special events on public land, while “cumbersome,” was effective.

City Council will have ultimate say on whether any changes are made to the city’s food truck policy.

When addressing the Planning Commission, Trivette left open the possibility that further changes could come about in the future, saying one chapter has ended but the book has not been closed.

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