On the Docket: New Food Truck Rules for Fairfax County

Ducky's Grub food truck/Credit: Ducky'sFairfax County is considering new zoning rules that would make it easier for food trucks to do business here.

The proposal, authorized by the county Board of Supervisors at their meeting on Tuesday, makes it cheaper for vendors to obtain permits and allows the trucks to operate at construction sites and commercial and industrial properties, such as office buildings and shopping centers.

Under the previous rules, food trucks were zoned as free-standing fast food restaurants. This classification required them to obtain a special exception from the Board of Supervisors. To get the exceptions, truck operators have to pay a $16,375-fee and  have two public hearings.

County Supervisor Sharon Bulova says she worked with people in the industry to try and come up with a solution.

“Food trucks are becoming a popular venue as an alternative to traditional sit-down and fast food restaurants,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the food truck industry and Fairfax County’s hospitality industries to find ways to accommodate this use.”

Highlights of the measure:

  • Proposed zoning rules allow food trucks to operate at construction sites, office buildings, shopping centers or other developed commercial and industrial properties.
  • Trucks will need a $100 permit, permission from property owners, plus a $35 Solicitor’s License and $40 Food Establishment Permit.
  • They can stay at any single location for four hours, but they may go to multiple locations. However, trucks still may not park on public roads to sell food. Virginia law prohibits vending on state-maintained roads.
  • Trucks may not be the primary or principal use at a lot. Under the proposed regulations they are considered an accessory use. They may only sell during the regular business hours of the nearby commercial space.
  • Trucks may only sell food at developed industrial or commercial properties that have a minimum of 25,000 to 30,000 square feet in gross floor area.
  • Only three trucks may congregate in one area.

The county gave zoning approvals to 14 trucks last year to vend at primarily commercial locations. It also began allowing food trucks in county parks. The parks currently have 10 locations where trucks are licensed to do business, and separate permits are required.

Food trucks can be found weekdays at various office park locations in Reston. One popular spot is Business Center Drive off of Sunset Hills Road, where several vendors from a rotating lineup can be found.
If the new Fairfax rules pass, it will be cheaper to sell tacos and falafel and other truck fare here than in nearby jurisdictions. The District of Columbia’s fees range from $476 to $1,200 for two years, and Arlington requires an annual $500 vendor fee.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to hold a public hearing on food trucks on July 30, and the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on Sept. 9.

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