By Janelle Germanos | The Connection Newspapers
Instead of bringing a brown-bag lunch to work or venturing out for fast food, Fairfax County residents may soon have a different option. On June 17, the Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with a proposal to make changes to food truck regulations.
The proposal will allow food trucks to operate at office buildings, construction sites, and commercial and industrial properties. Public hearings on the proposal will be held in front of the Planning Commission on July 30 and Sept. 9 in front of the Board of Supervisors.
“Food trucks are becoming a popular venue as an alternative to traditional sit-down and fast food restaurants,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “I’ve enjoyed working with the food truck industry and Fairfax County’s hospitality industries to find ways to accommodate this use.”
Supervisor Lynda Smith (D-Providence) said at the meeting that food trucks need to continue to be kept away from residential neighborhoods.
“There is a needle to be threaded here. Yes, food trucks are popular in the right place, but we all know they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and residential neighborhoods are not the right place at any time. There have been some issues with that in some of the neighborhoods, and this is something that we need to be sure is clearly written and very enforceable,” Smyth said.
The previous rules for food trucks zone them as free-standing fast-food restaurants, requiring two public hearings and a $16,375 fee. In Arlington, food truck vendors pay $500 per year.
“Food trucks are popular and something that people are already enjoying in the county, but also in other jurisdictions where legislation exists for how they are permitted,” Bulova said.
The new proposal would require a $100 annual zoning permit, as well as permission from property owners.
Last year, 14 permits were given to food truck vendors for operation in mostly commercial areas.
The Virginia Department of Transportation and county code prohibits food trucks from operating on public roads. This would not change under the new proposal.
The proposed amendment defines food trucks as “any readily movable mobile food service establishment, to include vehicles that are self-propelled, pushed or pulled to a specific location.”
Trucks can only sell at industrial or commercial properties with a 25,000 to 30,000 minimum square feet of gross floor area, making residential neighborhoods out of the question.
“I hope that excludes ice cream trucks,” Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) joked at the meeting.
Fortunately for residents looking for a break from the summer heat, ice cream trucks are excluded from that restriction.