Leesburg Council Will Reopen Food Truck Debate

The New Year has yet to bring a resolution to whether Leesburg should expand the allowance of food trucks in town, but that may soon change.

The Town Council voted Monday night to hold another work session on the matter, and those in favor of allowing more food trucks could get another vote on their side, as that meeting will come after the Feb. 6 special election to fill the seat vacated by Ken Reid.

Toward the end of 2017, the Town Council voted to expand provisions to allow mobile food units in the town’s industrial and employment center districts, but thus far has resisted expanding them into the town’s business districts, to include the historic downtown.

Some of the biggest proponents of allowing food trucks in downtown have been microbreweries, many of whom host food trucks on their private property on weekends. After the council decided in December not to expand food trucks into the business districts, Loudoun Brewing Company and its proprietor Phil Fust held a food truck awareness event. More than 100 signed a petition stating their preference for allowing food trucks, and several members of the council, as well as those running in the special election, attended the event.

As of yet, there have not been four votes on the council dais to reverse that decision. But discussion at Monday’s work session indicated change may be coming.

At that meeting, Councilman Ron Campbell said he would like the council to reconsider allowing food trucks in the town’s B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-4 districts. In addition to the downtown area (B-1), this would expand food truck use to the Crescent Design District, parts of the East Market Street corridor, and the Village at Leesburg development. The council had discussed a number of options to accomplish this, including allowing the mobile restaurants on a trial basis, or expanding the use of special event permits to allow businesses to use food trucks more, the latter being a suggestion of Councilman Tom Dunn.

“We can shape this how we want it to look like,” Campbell said. “If we’re not willing to work, I think it’s a loss for the community.”

Mayor Kelly Burk, who had previously voted against expanding food trucks in the business districts, said Monday she is willing to discuss allowing them in the B-2, B-3, and B-4 districts, but not the B-1 downtown district.

“I’m not interested in the historic district having food trucks. I think that’s a detriment to the downtown,” she said.

Councilman Marty Martinez, who had previously joined Burk and Dunn in opposing food trucks in the business districts, said he was not looking to revisit the discussion at all.

“When something doesn’t move forward you move on. We need to move on,” he said. “Continuing these conversations is raising the expectations of people we don’t want to disappoint.”

But Martinez was the lone member of council who did not support having another work session on the matter, so the discussion will indeed continue in 2018. The work session has not yet been scheduled.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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