CHRISTIANSBURG — Town Council has passed an ordinance that allows food trucks on downtown public on-street parking spaces for limited periods as long as they obtain a permit and follow a number of other conditions.
The ordinance, approved on a 5-0 vote this past week, eases Christiansburg’s food truck regulations in the downtown area and supporters of the change tout it as another step in ongoing efforts to improve that part of town.
“We really think this would be a benefit to our downtown businesses and our nonprofit organizations when they’re hosting events,” Justin Sanders, president of the nonprofit Downtown Christiansburg Inc., told council members this past week. “I really do think it’s a step in the right direction for bringing vitality downtown and bringing visibility for these restaurants and businesses.”
DCI has hosted and promoted major events such as the popular Food Truck Rodeo.
Food trucks help businesses attract traffic, Sanders said. The mobile food vendors in Christiansburg are usually seen in privately owned parking lots, which have different availability downtown, he said.
“We really do feel this would create some equity for our downtown businesses,” he said.
The recent change was applauded by several food truck operators.
“It’s a step in the right direction, for sure,” said Lara Miller, who manages the Floyd-based Bootleg BBQ food truck. “We hope the town will see the benefits and that it really supports small businesses that are having a hard time already. And it brings new food into the area.”
One of Bootleg BBQ’s activities is working with a number of local breweries to complement their offerings. The food truck has set up shop at Long Way Brewing in Radford and plans to start going to Moon Hollow Brewing near Blacksburg in August.
Another beer tasting establishment that Bootleg BBQ plans to visit soon is the recently opened Iron Tree Brewing Company in downtown Christiansburg.
Iron Tree has in recent weeks drawn praise for helping to enliven a section of downtown Christiansburg, and its owners have voiced strong interest in seeing the addition of a nearby food vendor to complement the brewery.
“It’s a win-win partnership with breweries and food trucks,” Miller said.
The ordinance specifically permits food trucks in certain locations in the B-2 Central Business District, the formal name for the prevalent zoning district in downtown Christiansburg.
In addition to needing to obtain a permit from the town manager’s office, food truck operators would be subject to a number of requirements. Among those requirements are limitations on how long they can run a food truck during the day and how often throughout the year they can operate one.
The ordinance limits the daily operation of a food truck in an approved location to eight hours. The unit then needs to be moved from that location after the end of that operation each day.
Individual food truck operators also can’t apply for more than a total of 24 days in a calendar year.
Another condition is food trucks aren’t permitted on an on-street parking space located within 200 feet of an existing restaurant’s property line.
One condition Town Manager Randy Wingfield noted this week in response to some questions about safety is that the ordinance allows the town to ask for drawings of proposed food truck set-up locations.
“To basically detail how they’re handling pedestrian safety and vehicle safety,” Wingfield told council members. “So if some type of barriers need to be put in place, we could require that.”
As with other traditional restaurants, all food truck sales will also be subject to the town’s meals tax, a key revenue source for Christiansburg.