Parksley officials mull crackdown on food trucks

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BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —

Parksley is deliberating how to manage new food trucks in town and could dramatically reduce the number of days they can operate in town.

The town council during a public hearing Monday, Sept. 11, discussed proposed guidelines that would allow mobile food vendors to sell their fare only during special events in town.

Council members will continue the discussion during a work session Monday, Sept. 25.

“I have nothing against food trucks, but we are trying to get new businesses into the Town of Parksley,” said Mayor Frank Russell of the town’s brick-and-mortar stores.

“How are we going to try to entice businesses to come to the Town of Parksley if we don’t try to protect the ones that we have?” he said.

Parksley has no existing ordinance governing food trucks, Town Clerk Lauren Lewis said during the hearing.

Proposed guidelines would allow food trucks in town only during special events such as festivals that the town council has approved or sponsored.

The ordinance would require each vendor to get a permit from the town at a cost of $30 per event. Food trucks would be limited to the main town parking lot or the town park.

Council members were divided on the proposed rules.

“We’re targeting one business type, which I think is wrong,” said council member Sam Welch.

“It’s not that we don’t want food trucks. We want to be able to control the food trucks,” said council member Ricky Taylor.

The debate comes months after a food truck opened on Bennett Street.

According to Health Director for the Eastern Shore District Jon Richardson, a Virginia Department of Health inspector visited the business July 17 and found evidence that the truck had disposed of mop water outside of the food truck on the ground, and of grease-laden water in buckets that appeared to overflow onto the ground.

The Health Department visited July 24 and confirmed the issues had been fixed, he said.

All mobile food units must get a permit from the Department of Health. Officials from the department conduct regular inspections, which are “relatively similar to the ones that we conduct at a restaurant,” Richardson said.

Food truck owners re-apply for the permits annually, he said.

Some council members noted that none of Parksley’s restaurant owners attended the public hearing to share their concerns about food trucks in town.

“If they’re scared of being put out of business, why aren’t they here?” said council member Brad York.

The Parksley Town Council will discuss the proposed food truck ordinance during a work session on Monday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Railway Museum at 18468 Dunne Ave.

Residents can submit comments on the proposed ordinance until the work session by emailing [email protected] or dropping them off at the town office, 18444 Dunne Ave.

A copy of the proposed Ordinance Governing the Use of Mobile Food Truck Units is available by request at the town office.

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