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Restaurant owner files lawsuit against Farmville over food truck ordinance

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Mark Shirley, the owner of the “Ole’ Time Smokehouse” food truck, operates in Farmville.

He voiced his displeasure with a new food truck ordinance at a Farmville Town Council meeting in April. Now, he’s taking legal action.

Billy Strickland is his attorney.

“It was just shock and disbelief that they would have such protectionism to block my client from making a living,” Strickland said.

Before the ordinance went into effect in April, Farmville food truck owners paid a $50 operational fee or a $100 annual fee. Now, they must pay a $75 a day fee and only be in operation twice a week.

Shirley claims the ordinance violates his constitutional rights. He hired Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jessica Thompson for assistance with his lawsuit. Thompson drove from Washington D.C. to Greenville to represent Shirley in the Pitt County Courthouse.

“By placing these arbitrary restrictions on Mark’s business, they violate his right to earn a living. They also violate his equal protection clause of the North Carolina constitution by placing arbitrary restrictions on his food truck business that serves lunch, while not placing those same restrictions on brick and mortar restaurants that serve lunch.”

Jessica Thompson, Pacific Legal Foundation attorney

Farmville Town Council attorney Christopher Edwards says the food truck ordinance is legal. He also revealed the town hasn’t received complaints about it to the extent of Shirley’s.

“I will say like every other municipality I’m aware of, the town of Farmville does have commercial food vendors and food vendors and food truck regulations and the town believes that the regulations it’s adopted are perfectly legal. There are other food vendors actively conducting business in town on regular basis. Therefore, we believe that shows that the ordinance is not as nearly as egregious as Mr. Shirley would allege.”

Christopher Edwards, Farmville Town Council attorney

The Farmville Town Council has 30 days to respond to Mark Shirley’s complaint.

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