Leesburg Council Discusses Food Trucks – Again

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.

5 thoughts on “Leesburg Council Discusses Food Trucks – Again

  • 2018-03-13 at 4:59 pm

    The council always waves the “historic” flag when they don’t have any other cogent argument. The reality is that nothing about downtown Leesburg’s historic character is going to change because a food truck sets up shop for a few hours on private property. Unlike other council proposals to festoon downtown with murals and statues and Winchester-like malls, allowing private property owners to contract with private food providers to serve food to their customers is not something that alters even the tiniest of shred of historic ambiance (if that’s even a thing) in downtown Leesburg. And for the record, it isn’t going to compete with brick and mortar restaurants in town either. The people at breweries, drinking beer, are by definition NOT in one of the brick and mortar restaurants at a sit down dinner. So here’s an idea. How about if local government gets out of the business of legislating private property use and private food services that are not legitimately in their purview in the first place? People in town WANT this. They do NOT want 4 people on the town council ruining it for everyone, mostly for the benefit of a couple of local restaurant owners who they are buddies with…

  • 2018-03-13 at 7:51 pm

    I don’t understand why we need food trucks in the crowded downtown streets of Leesburg. There are restaurants in the area that provide food so why food trucks? If I owned a restaurant in the downtown area (which I don’t) and had invested time and money in making it a success, I would be angry that the council is even considering this action. In addition, people are already complaining about the lack of parking spaces in the downtown area so we now want to take away more spaces to make room for food trucks?? I also agree with Mayor Burk—Leesburg had tried and succeeded in to maintaining a small town feel for years so why do we want to add anything tha tis not needed that would detract from this small town feel?

  • 2018-03-14 at 10:28 pm

    Food trucks were only allowed in Leesburg for special events (i.e. the Flower & Garden Show) through a temporary use permit. Somehow, Hamburg Doener was allowed to park its truck (and tables) at Virginia Village Shopping Center prior to opening their fixed restaurant at the Mighty Midget Kitchen in 2009 without any hassle from the town. In fact, there was a ribbon cutting for it! Prior to my election in 2016, the previous council looked at allowing them all over town and there was vigorous opposition. The county has no such restrictions. I initiated the proposal to allow them in the office park areas of town (Oaklawn, Miller Drive, Cardinal Park), and that was adopted in November. The rationale was that those areas have no restaurant amenities and with the County moving more and more employees to Miller Drive (PRCS moving about 300 in the spring), there is a need for eateries there, of which there are virtually none. Before expanding this to the B-1 District (downtown), I think the Council should ask (1) are any food trucks taking advantage of the liberalized rules in the Cardinal Park/Oaklawn/Miller Drive areas? (2) is the town’s economic development people promoting that to food truck owners (3), is the attempt to add them in the B-1 just to help brew pubs who do not have nor wish to invest in a commercial kitchen to serve food ($50K and up to do that) (4) if allowed on Private property, could that mean next to homes and apartments meaning we have a potential nuisance for residents. (5) At what hours and days and times? (6) do any other historic downtowns in Virginia allow them and under what conditions? Extending this to the historic district without getting these questions answered doesnt seem wise. It might just be prudent to allow them on certain weekends and hours in the B-1 by revising the temporary use permit first and see how it goes. But for all you food truck operators, please go down to Cardinal Park, Oaklawn and Miller Drive during the weekdays and try to get some business!

  • 2018-03-15 at 5:38 am

    Not to do with Leesburg but there is a barbeque truck at the Shell station in Paeonian Springs that has the best pulled pork! Try it you like it!

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