Mark Shirley, the owner of a Farmville-based BBQ food truck, Ole Time Smokehouse, filed a lawsuit to challenge protectionist permitting regulations that deprive him of his livelihood.

In April, Farmville’s Board of Commissioners raised food truck permit fees from $100 per year to $75 per day. Cities and towns may assess regulatory fees to cover the cost of regulation. But Farmville’s permit fee far exceeds the town’s regulatory costs and would cost Shirley $7,800 annually to operate twice a week, a 7,700% increase from last year.

The board also increased the distance food trucks must keep from restaurants, from 100 feet from a restaurant’s entrance to 100 feet from the property line, unless the competing restaurant grants written permission. The new restrictions put the private downtown parking space Shirley leased for the past two years too close to a nearby restaurant to operate without his competitor’s permission.

With these new fees and regulations, Shirley was forced to move his business out of Farmville.

“Especially at a time when so many small businesses are fighting to survive, the government shouldn’t create new barriers for entrepreneurs,” said Jessica Thompson, a Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorney representing Shirley. “Economic liberty protects individuals’ opportunity to improve their lives and provides customers with more choices.”

PLF represents Mark Shirley free of charge. The case, Mark Shirley and Ole Time Smokehouse v. Town of Farmville et al., was filed in Pitt County Superior Court.

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