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December 12, 2018

Food truck and business sign restrictions eased

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The zoning changes give Warrenton businesses greater flexibility for signs. In this photo, a committee surveys downtown signs six years ago.
A big thanks for believing in us and giving us the opportunity as a small business. It’s been a great year. Our sales are up substantially.
— SoBo Mobile food truck co-owner Rebecca Snyder
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Citizens will see food trucks in new locations and, perhaps, more variety among business signs around Warrenton.

The town council Tuesday night voted, 6-0, to approve zoning amendments for mobile food vendors and business signs.

> Agenda at bottom of story

Food trucks will be allowed to operate in any district zoned for restaurants or public parks, provided they meet certain requirements and get town permits.

The mobile kitchens must stay: 

• 100 feet from any residential zoning district.

• 50 feet from any restaurant, unless the owner provides a letter of “no objection” for a closer location.

• 25 feet from any other mobile food vendor. 

Rebecca Snyder, co-owner of SoBo Mobile food truck, spoke in favor of the changes during the public hearing. Ms. Snyder provided the hearing’s only comments.

“I wanted to say a formal thank you for giving us an opportunity,” she said. “We came to you about two years ago, and we sounded like a wild idea, but it’s worked out really well for us.

“A big thanks for believing in us and giving us the opportunity as a small business,” she added. “It’s been a great year. Our sales are up substantially.”

Warrenton’s council also approved sign ordinance updates to bring the town into compliance with federal law, based on a Supreme Court decision. The update will provide clarity and flexibility, according to the town staff.

The changes, among others, will:

• Allow neon and other types of lighting, as well as more sign material flexibility in the town’s historic district, with Architectural Review Board approval.

• Slightly increase the sign area on buildings and windows in commercial and industrial districts. 

• Allow static electronic message center signs in commercial and industrial districts. 

• Outlaw fluttering flag, balloon and air-activated temporary signs. 

Temporary sandwich board signs on sidewalks remain legal, but they will need permits, as the town has always required, and must meet certain location requirements, according to Planning Director Brandie Schaeffer.

Town officials will wait six months to begin enforcement, allowing time for business owners to understand the ordinance, Ms. Schaeffer said.

The council will review the sign changes after a year.

“One of the big things I heard early on was that Warrenton was not business-friendly. So, I think this is a good example of the Town of Warrenton continuing to shape and adjust things so that we are business friendly,” Renard Carlos (At-large) said.

These updates have “allowed for more signage on buildings, more creativity and individual expression by allowing a variety . . . alternative materials in the historic district, true neon, other things that businesses brought forward,” Ms. Schaeffer said. “By passing this, you are relaxing standards and offering more opportunities for business.”

The council also voted, 4-2, to amend the budget by $46,500 for half-year salary and benefits for a full-time fire inspector/code enforcement officer.

Sean Polster (At-large) and Jerry Wood (Ward 1) voted against the amendment, citing concerns about health insurance premiums for employees and the financial impact a new position would have.

In other matters Tuesday night, the council vote unanimously:

• To appoint Ms. Schaeffer as the interim town manager.

• Voted, 6-0, to amend the budget by $61,000 to pay for an interim town manager.

• Voted, 6-0, to amend the budget by $35,000 to fund a consulting firm’s help in the search for a permanent town manager.

• To authorize town staff to negotiate with Ohio-based Novak Consulting Group to conduct an executive search for a new town manager.

• To authorize the town manager to sign an agreement to provide water and sewer service to the Stafford Farm property where Lord Fairfax Community College plans to build a new academic building. The board of supervisors plans to donate the 50-acre site, doubling the LFCC campus.

• To reappoint Laura Bartee and Steve Wojcik to the town Architectural Review Board.

• To reappoint Susan Helander and Ali Zarabi to the town planning commission.

• To provide adjustments to customer bills for water/sewer leaks inside their buildings that have caused economic hardship.

• To renew the town’s cable TV franchise agreement with Comcast.

Councilman Alec Burnett (Ward 2) missed Tuesday’s meeting.

Contact Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540878-6007.

Warrenton council meeting agenda 121118 by Fauquier Now on Scribd


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Silii · December 17, 2018 at 8:35 am
This change is long overdue. I hope it brings some bling and energy to Main St., sorely needed and I hope it isn't too late to revitalize the town. Warrenton's Main Street, simply put, is boring, low energy, in spite of some really nice and fun shops. Go to Middleburg, to Davis St.in Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Leesburg - better and more variety of restaurants, more energy, and all have parking issues so parking shouldn't be the scapegoat. (Leesburg wised up some years ago and built a multi-level parking garage). I recently heard a radio ad about making Warrenton a destination day trip. I hope there is much more focus on that and maybe updated signage combined with a strong advertising campaign to come to Warrenton will help draw people and energize the place. Do any of the winery tours include a broader offering by stopping for several hours to shop Main St. before heading to a few wineries?

Aside from Main St., what's with the high number of storefront vacancies in the asphalt jungle strip malls? Some places have been sitting vacant for years. It seems to be a well-kept secret about what's happening with the Sears space. Wouldn't a theater and restaurant like Firebirds with an upscale menu and appealing ambience be nice?

I fear Gainesville and Culpeper have already surpassed Warrenton in drawing popular stores and restaurant chains (e.g.,Firebirds and similar type restaurants with upscale menus), and I'm NOT talking about big box stores and fast food joints.
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