GEORGETOWN — Effective the evening of June 27, mobile food trucks are no longer permitted to operate in the corporate town limits of Georgetown, except for special events and on private property with business licensing and permission.
Council cast final approval to the ordinance amendment, sparked earlier this spring by complaints from Café on the Circle owner Michael Oxbrough and other restaurants that food trucks setting up shop on the Circle were hurting their business.
Mr. Oxbrough, who addressed the mayor and council at several meetings, urged the town to protect these in-town establishments, noting it costs a food vendor just $68 a year for a business license versus $50,000 a year in rent and utilities for restaurants.
“My whole big thing was it was basically just to protect the businesses within the town,” Mr. Oxbrough said at a May council session.
Prior town code banned food trucks on East and West Market Street and North and South Bedford Street, but the prohibition did not encompass the Circle. Several food trucks had been operating on varying days.
Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce President/Executive Director Linda Price said the chamber supports the ordinance. The chamber met with representatives from the town and Sussex County Family Court the week after a food truck, Chick-fil-A, arrived on the Circle.
“The premise was not that we were opposed to food trucks,” said Ms. Price. “We wanted them to understand that our restaurants still had not come back from the courthouse being closed for two years, and that bringing a food truck — Chick-fil-A — even if it was for one day, it took a lot of their business away.”
Council’s vote amending Chapter 119 of town code was unanimous.
The amendment does allow food truck operations, with receipt of a business license from the town, under the following circumstances:
• On private property, if the food truck vendor is legally parked on the property and has received written permission from the property owner and displays such written permission upon request.
• At any farmers market held on public or private property, if the food truck vendor is legally parked at the farmers market and has received written permission from the farmers market operator and displays such written permission upon request.
• At special events, provided the vendor has obtained an annual food vendor license and receives permission from the town manager.
• On public property, including but not limited to parking lots and community buildings, where such public property has sufficient space for vehicle parking, and with the town manager’s permission.
Eugene Dvornick, Georgetown’s town manager, said examples of food truck operations at special events would be Sussex County Return Day, New Year’s Eve or similar events, and concerts at Sandhill Fields, a sports complex on the town’s eastern edge.
As an example of private property, Mr. Dvornick referred to a food truck presence at Grace United Methodist Church, located on King Street just off East Market Street. As this is private property, this is not impacted by the ban.
“We do believe that the food trucks should be allowed on the Circle when there is a special occasion going on, like Return Day or a Christmas parade or something like that,” said Ms. Price. “But bottom line from the chamber’s perspective is we wanted to make sure that we were fair for all of our businesses downtown, and that didn’t create any more detriment to their business growth by bringing in food trucks that were within a block of where they were.”