BLACKSBURG — The road is open for mobile cuisine in Blacksburg.
With little fanfare, town council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve new rules meant to make it easier for food trucks to operate in Blacksburg.
The decision wraps up more than a year of on-and-off discussion of how to better manage the itinerant kitchens that would venture into the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and other parts of town.
Some council members had expressed concern that the town’s $500 annual fee for food trucks was keeping some vendors away, while others said that some trucks were ignoring the fee and other rules.
Two ordinances approved Tuesday reduce the annual fee for food trucks to $100 and amend the town zoning ordinance, setting up a new temporary use permit that the mobile vendors will get annually. The new rules also outline where rolling restaurants can do business.
Town Zoning Administrator Andrew Warren explained that permit holders can operate a maximum of two days per week in the same location and may only be open between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Among the new rules is a prohibition on food trucks setting up in residential areas — except the commercial areas of planned communities — and a three-vendor limit for any given lot. Food trucks must be at least 50 feet from single- and two-family residential districts, Warren said.
The food trucks also have to stay at least 100 feet from any brick-and-mortar restaurants during the non-mobile eateries’ operating hours — though food trucks may participate in special events like the town’s annual downtown Steppin’ Out festival if organizers allow it, Warren said.
There are also limitations on noise, signs and traffic, a requirement to pick up trash, and provisions for inspections and revoking of permits if there are persistent problems, Warren said.
Town officials had delayed Tuesday’s vote from last month to allow more discussion of the new rules’ effects on Indigo Farms, a popular fresh seafood operation that for decades has trucked fish from North Carolina’s coast to a circuit of roadside and parking lot sales spots in Blacksburg, Riner and Floyd.
One of the regular stops for the “fish ladies,” as Indigo Farms is known, is in a residential area on Draper Road and would be banned by the new ordinance.
No one from Indigo Farms was present Tuesday, but Warren said that in talks last month, two alternate locations were found for the Draper Road spot.
The new rules take effect immediately. Warren said that he expects a least a few of the region’s food trucks to roll in soon for the new permits.