BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —
Parksley has set strict guidelines for food trucks in town but will check with an attorney before enforcing the rules on a Haitian food trailer operating within town limits.
The town council during its meeting Monday, Oct. 9, passed an ordinance allowing mobile food vendors to sell their fare in Parksley only during special events such as festivals that the town council has approved or sponsored.
The rules require each vendor to get a permit from the town at a cost of $30 per event and allow food trucks to operate in the town’s main parking lot or the town park.
The ordinance went into effect immediately after it was signed.
“We’re not against food trucks, folks. We’re against permanent food trucks,” said Mayor Frank Russell.
Debate over how to manage food trucks in Parksley began a few months after a mobile food vendor opened on Bennett Street, operated by the owners of Eben-Ezer Variety Market, near the new Eastern Shore Public Library.
The town had no ordinance governing food trucks at the time, said Town Clerk Lauren Lewis.
All mobile food units must get a permit from the Virginia Department of Health, for which they re-apply annually, according to Health Director for the Eastern Shore District Jon Richardson.
Officials from the health department conduct regular inspections, which are “relatively similar to the ones that we conduct at a restaurant,” he said.
A health department inspector visited Parksley’s food truck 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, Richardson said.
The Health Department visited July 24 and confirmed the issues had been fixed, he said.
The Parksley Town Council held a public hearing Sept. 11 on proposed rules to manage mobile food vendors in town.
No residents spoke about the food truck ordinance during the hearing, but town council members were divided on the proposed guidelines.
“We’re targeting one business type, which I think is wrong,” council member Sam Welch said during that meeting.
“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.
Russell agreed this week: “We’re not saying ‘No food trucks.’ We’re saying we want food trucks for festivals and special events.”
Despite a Sept. 19 Facebook post that drew almost 100 comments, no residents spoke about the food truck ordinance before it passed during Monday’s town council meeting.
“I find it amazing how many people are Facebook warriors,” said town council member Mark Layne.
Parksley had received several letters by email opposing the ordinance, but all but one were sent anonymously, so the town could only confirm one resident had sent a letter, Lewis said.
Regarding the fate of Parksley’s existing food truck, Parksley officials will meet with the town’s attorney before taking any action to enforce the new rules, she said.
— Read the new Ordinance Governing the Use of Mobile Food Truck Units on Parksley’s website at https://tinyurl.com/2544a7m4