Downtown Lexington sewer woes continue, more loosening of food truck rules considered

Truck pumping Main Street sewage 24/7 still in place after nearly six months

Posted 9/21/23

The Town of Lexington has issued an emergency ordinance due to ongoing sewage issues.

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Downtown Lexington sewer woes continue, more loosening of food truck rules considered

Truck pumping Main Street sewage 24/7 still in place after nearly six months


The Town of Lexington has issued an emergency ordinance due to ongoing sewage issues.

At a special called meeting on Sept. 18, Lexington town council approved the Maiden Lane Wastewater Services Emergency ordinance in response to the ongoing sewage issues at 117 1/2 E. Main St.

According to the ordinance, the town was made aware of a sewage break at this location and has taken remedial measures to prevent spillage. These measures include a sewage truck that has been parked in the lot behind O’Hara’s Public House and the law firm McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates since March 29, having to be manned 24/7 to “pump and haul” the sewage away from the area, the town previously told the Chronicle.

“The remedial measures are only a temporary solution and the permanent solution is significantly delayed due to steps required to obtain an easement,” the ordinance states. “The extended delay unnecessarily risks significant and potentially hazardous conditions due to the nature of the temporary remedial measures particularly during heavy storm events.”

Laurin Barnes, communications manager for the town, told the Chronicle that recent rain events prompted the ordinance due to multiple risks – including rain directly causing equipment failures or high flow coming through the pipes, which could cause a spill.

Barnes told the Chronicle in July that the town has to acquire properties located at 121 E Main St. and 127 E Main St. in order to fix a sewage failure. The town is in the process of condemning the property, Barnes added that this process will take longer than anticipated and that the emergency ordinance would allow them to explore other options for a permanent fix.

According to Barnes, the line can’t be repaired as it is located under a building. She said the town has to acquire the property in order to relocate the line.

“The issue is isolated and it is because of the age of that particular sewer line combined with the fact it can’t be repaired/replaced because it is located underneath a building,” Barnes said in July. “The only option is to reroute the line and divert flow which requires an easement and the town has been working to acquire that easement prior to the current failure.”

That work involved negotiations with the property owner, New Brookland Associates LLC, before the current line failure, which have thus far not been successful. Now the town has started the process of condemning the property, which has to go through court.

The Chronicle reached out to New Brookland Associates and their legal representation for comment but didn’t receive a reply.

According to a town official, the property was appraised at $4,700 and the town offered the owners $5,400 to acquire the property. The town official stated that New Brookland Associates came back saying it had an estimate putting the value of the property at $500,000.

During the Sept. 18 meeting, Stuart Ford, interim town administrator, said the town will maintain its current strategy to alleviate the sewer issue until a permanent solution is put into effect. He said that when reconstruction does begin, the town wants to have the least possible impact to the surrounding businesses.

Further loosening of mobile food restrictions?

Recently loosened restrictions on food trucks in the Town of Lexington aren’t loose enough for one local business. Cox Family BBQ, a popular vendor at the town’s Market at Icehouse, applied for a mobile food vendor permit but was denied, Town Economic Developer Jack Stuart told council at its July 24 work session. 

Cox was on hand Sept. 18, asking council for an amendment to the current ordinance so that he is able to operate in Lexington without a business or location having special event permit.

Stuart previously told council denying Cox was due to the business utilizing an outdoor kitchen, not one that is self-contained within a vehicle. Under the town's current ordinance, a mobile food vendor is defined as a self-contained, motorized, vehicle-mounted food service unit that returns daily to its base of operations.

The business had also applied to be permitted as a sidewalk vendor and was denied due to the items they sell not being on the permitted merchandise list. The vendor is currently able to operate at the market due to the amphitheater holding a special event permit. 

“We follow all the guidelines and we do our best to make everything presentable,” Cox said Sept. 18. “What our specific setup allows us to do is to be more flexible, we can work in smaller areas and take up less space than some of the larger trailers.”

Cox emphasized that his business is certified by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, but under the food cart not a food truck. He added that his business falls under this criteria as they do not do any onsite cooking but is more a large warming table, with food already prepared and ready to be plated and served.

The town recently addressed another snag in its food truck restrictions, taking action last fall to expand the number of food vendors allowed on a property, which was previously capped at between one and four per year depending on the size of the property. 

The loosened restrictions allow business/property owners to apply for an annual permit for any food truck to operate on that property, as long as the property owner receives consent from any restaurant within 200 feet.

lexington town council, downtown sewage issue, main street business, midlands food truck, columbia mobile vendor


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