By Brent Wilson, Field Officer
The Greene County Planning Commission heard a proposal from Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda to create a category of mobile food units (more commonely refered to as Food Trucks) allowed by right in B-1, B-2, B-3, M-1 and M-2 zoning districts at their monthly meeting on July 16th. Svoboda explained that in the past few years there have been more mobile food units in industrial areas in the county.
The proposed new ordinance would allow a vendor to take their mobile unit to three locations in the county for a year. The issues that he brought up to the PC were safety, traffic flow, fire hydrant locations, and set back distance and Charlottesville’s ordinance has recently been reviewed .
According to the proposed regulations, the unit must be located on private property and not in the right of way. The unit must be moved from one of the approved locations each day. The hours would be limited to 6 am to 10 pm.
Commissioner John McCloskey asked Svoboda how this affects vineyards and was told this does not apply to vineyards. Commissioner Vic Schaff had a unique perspective as an owner of a brick and mortar restaurant. He questioned how (and if) these businesses paid the same taxes to the county as other businesses. He raised concerns that the creation of this new zoning classification could create an uneven playing field and harm existing businesses in Greene (including his own). While to some many of his comments may have seemed self serving, his questions were valid.
The hearing was then opened up to the public and the only speaker was David Holtzman, Land Use Field Office for the Piedmont Environmental Council . He had several questions for the PC, including why does the unit have to vacate daily, the space allowed, and music/sound levels.
The hearing then moved to the discussion within the Planning Commission. Chairman Jay Willer confirmed that a vendor must get a zoning permit and there should be a verification process that the vendor has a Greene County business license.
As to the collection of taxes, Svobada stated that the Commissioner of Revenue is responsible for collection of taxes from businesses in Greene County. As for the need to have the unit move daily, Svoboda stated that units have limited capacity and need to be serviced daily. And if they didn’t move daily, they would be considered a permanent structure.
Willer recapped the issues that the Planning Commission had agreed on. Svoboda asked if the Commission would want to approve with the agreed to changes, deny the request or defer the request and have a revised request come back to them at the next meeting. The Commission agreed to defer the request to allow Svoboda to present an updated request at next August’s meeting.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
Photo Credit: Vintage Virginia and Respective Food Trucks