Food for thought: Plantation Lakes’ event request spurs ‘special’ discussion

 

MILLSBORO – A growing residential development, Plantation Lakes is rapidly becoming a town within a town.

Residents of the upscale community on Millsboro’s western edge would like to hold family-friendly, community days featuring food trucks several times a year. Memorial Day through Labor Day is the prospective warm weather target period.

“We probably wouldn’t do it more than four or five months … while the pool was open,” said Chris O’Halloran, a spokesman for the Plantation Lakes group at Millsboro’s Oct. 2 council meeting.

Currently, such events involving food truck vendors are prohibited in town limits, except for town-sponsored events on town property. Such was the case during the Millsboro’s July 1 fireworks celebration at Cupola Park.

Town officials are leaning toward the “special event” route in response to the request from Plantation Lakes representatives. This would require modification of town code, which requires a public hearing.

In a meeting with Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson, organizers were informed there are many restaurants in town that pay taxes and licensing fees and it would not be fair to these establishments “if we brought in food truck vendors from other communities that do not pay taxes or licensing fees to Millsboro,” said Mr. O’Halloran. “We concur. We don’t want to take business from anybody. We don’t want to insult anybody. We understand they pay fees and we’re sensitive to that.”

Mr. O’Halloran said organizers are willing to canvass all restaurants in town to see if they’d like to set up a food truck or cooking area at an event and participate in the evening’s activities.

Mr. Hudson, a resident of Plantation Lakes, said the effort was a “sincere desire to bring some activities that would be family oriented, not just food trucks but also things like ‘Movie Night.’ As a resident of Plantation Lakes, it would be nice to see more family-friendly activities in the development. There was no desire to undercut town businesses in any way. I would encourage town council to examine this.”

“They made a very nice presentation and a nice case for allowing food trucks,” said Mr. Hudson. “Hopefully, we can land somewhere that is acceptable to everyone and hopefully beneficial to everyone.”

Attorney Mary Schrider-Fox, Millsboro’s town solicitor, and town consultant Kyle Gulbronson of AECOM, were asked to come up with suggestions and recommendations. This could include examining what other towns have booked in code related to special events as well as possible conditions such as the number of times an event could be held per year, event duration and hours and even the definition of a “special event.”

“I don’t think this is going to be going on at such a frequency that something like that couldn’t’ be handled as far as a special event,” said councilman Jim Kells.

Millsboro Mayor John Thoroughgood said the town instituted the prohibition on food truck vendors after a mobile hot dog vendor set up shop in the Lowe’s shopping center, in backyard competition with fast-food businesses that are licensed and pay town taxes.

“That’s where this all came about,” Mayor Thoroughgood said. “We had to have something in there. He was just going park on Main Street right in front of a restaurant.”

At present Plantation Lakes has approximately 750 homes either built or under construction.

“If we assume – I think the Census Bureau uses 2.6 persons per household – that gets us to about 1,950 in that development,” said Mr. Hudson. “If you want to use a more conservative estimate; there are obviously some retirees in the development and typically they have slightly smaller households … if you assume two, that gets you to about 1,500. I’d say somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 is a good estimate.”

“At full build-out I think you get in neighborhood of 2,500 units. So that then takes us to somewhere between 5,000 and 6,500 (residents) when the development is complete,” said Mr. Hudson. “That would pretty much double the town.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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