Fairfax County to Consider New Zoning Rules to Help Food Trucks Do Business

Update September 16, 2014: The Board of Supervisors is now anticipated to hold its public hearing on these proposed zoning rules at its October 7, 2014, meeting. This hearing date, and the proposal, are subject to change. 

June 17, 2014

News Highlights

  • 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.

Fairfax County is considering new zoning rules that will make it significantly easier for food trucks to do business. The proposal allows these trucks to operate at construction sites and commercial and industrial properties, such as office buildingsand shopping centers.

The suggested rules were developed in consultation with industry. While the new regulations were being formulated, the county gave zoning approvals to 14 trucks last year to vend at primarily commercial locations

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

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized moving forward on the proposal today. The Planning Commission is anticipated to hold a public hearing on July 30, and the board is expected to conduct its public hearing on September 9.

Food trucks still may not park on public roads to sell food, however. This continues to be prohibited by Virginia Department of Transportation regulations and county code, regardless of whether the proposal passes. The proposed zoning rules only apply to private property.

Under the previous rules, food trucks were zoned as freestandingfast-food restaurants, and this classification required them to obtain a special exception from the Board of Supervisors. These exceptions require a $16,375-fee, plus twopublic hearings.

In contrast, the proposed rules allow trucks to function with an annual $100 zoning permit, permission from property owners, and other required permits and licenses. The District of Columbia’s fees range from $476 to $1,200 for two years, and Arlington requires an annual $500 vendor fee.

Fairfax’s recommended rules permit food truck operation to do business as follows:

  • Trucks must apply for a single, annual $100 zoning permit, along with a $35 Solicitor’s License from the Department of Cable and Consumer Services and $40 Food Establishment Permit from the Health Department.
  • Trucks must have written consent from property owners to do business at their location.
  • Property owners must apply for a one-time $100 food truck permit, and they must detail where the trucks will be located. They may not block a property’s entrances or exits, travel or fire lanes, or required parking spaces.
  • Trucks may stay at any single location for four, hours in total (including set up and take-down), but they may sell food from multiple locations. Property owners and food trucks must specify the time period for operations, but they may only be during a property’s normal business hours.
  • Up to three trucks may operate at any single location.
  • 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. The Board of Supervisors will decide whether the threshold is the lower or higher square-foot figure. This threshold is based on how the Zoning Ordinance currently defines an offices park. They must be a minimum of 30,000 square feet, but the Board of Supervisors will decide on whether to use the higher or lower minimum square-footage figure.
  • Trucks may not be the primary or principal use at a lot. Under the proposed regulations they are considered an accessory use.

The rules also clarify that food trucks are allowed on county property or Fairfax County Park Authority land. The parks currently have 10 locations where trucks are licensed to do business, and separate permits are required.

County officials may revoke a food truck permit or property owner’s permit if they do not comply with the zoning rules.


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