It was a familiar topic of discussion before the Town Council on Monday night: Should regulations be opened up to allow mobile food units in the downtown area?
The council last year passed legislation that permitted food trucks in the town’s industrial and employment center districts, but held off on supporting food trucks in the town’s business districts. But earlier this year, some of those same council members who had voiced dissent on allowing them in the B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-4 districts expressed support for renewing the discussion. While there now appears to be majority support for allowing them in the B-2, B-3 and B-4 districts—areas of town that include the Village at Leesburg, part of the East Market Street corridor and the Crescent Design District—the remaining sticking point appears to be whether to allow food trucks in the B-1, or downtown, district where several breweries like to host food trucks.
When the matter last came before the council for a vote, the council was down one member following Ken Reid’s resignation. Now, with Josh Thiel winning the February special election to fill Reid’s term, there will be seven members to determine the food trucks’ fate. Monday night, the council listened to a staff presentation on the matter and asked clarifying questions. While the council was not expected to vote on a potential Zoning Ordinance initiation this week, with staff needing to come back with further research on the council’s questions, some members made their thoughts on the matter known.
“What our culture is about is encouraging entrepreneurs. We don’t decide what businesses are going to come here,” Councilman Ron Campbell said. “If we’re going to change policies we should understand why the policies should be reflective of our unique culture.”
But Mayor Kelly Burk, who has opposed allowing food trucks in the downtown, said the historic nature of Leesburg needs to be considered.
“The historic aspect … is extremely important. Otherwise we just become another town. We become un-unique,” she said.
Listening in the audience Monday night were some key stakeholders on the matter – representatives of Leesburg’s microbrewery community as well as local food truck vendors. Both Loudoun Brewing Company’s and Black Walnut Brewery’s owners have asked the council to allow food trucks on a permanent basis in the downtown area to serve their customers on busy weekends.