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Plans for a food truck park in Exeter are halted



Hamid Chaudhry had a plan that defied all categories.

In 2019, he purchased the former Sheetz at 6000 Perkiomen Ave. in Exeter Township, along with several adjacent parcels of land. In April, he announced plans to construct a food truck park and communal kitchen on the site.

He consulted with food truck owners and the Exeter Township Zoning Board and Planning Commission. His plan attracted lots of attention, but on June 22 Chaudhry provided an update via a Facebook post.

“I am sorry to inform my friends and well-wishers in Berks County that my food truck park idea did not work out at least for (the) next couple years,” he wrote. “I did not find myself motivated to fulfill Exeter Township’s requirements during these uncertain economic times to open a food truck park… I just did not have it in me to overcome the obstacles to put a food truck park [sic] at this time of my life perhaps I am not hungry enough.”

The fact that there was no such thing as a “food truck park” in Exeter Township’s Zoning Ordinance proved challenging for Chaudhry. Having to go before the Planning Commission and Zoning Commission created a large expense and workload for him.

To Chaudhry, the food truck park was a straightforward retail project. To the township, it was more complicated. The township was also concerned about increased traffic in the area.

“The Zoning Hearing Board may even require a Land Development Plan be submitted and approved,” Exeter Township Zoning Officer Will Brugger wrote in a May 11 letter to Chaudhry, “as a condition, if approved for the ‘food truck park.’ You will also have to seek a zoning variance for the erection of a 300 sq. ft. electronic sign.”

When contacted by phone, Brugger had no additional comment.

Chaudhry envisioned the food truck park as a quick project before his true dream — a farmer’s market on the property — could be realized.

The food truck project would have cost $500,000, including signage, fixing the parking lot and providing a commercial kitchen. On top of that, the township only gave him a six-month permit.

“The cost wasn’t worth it,” Chaudhry said. “You don’t spend half a million dollars to open for six months. So that made it non-feasible.”

He said that he has nothing against the township, but is waiting for the current economic “uncertainty” to go away.

“I’m going to wait for the right project to come along,” he said, “because I believe the market is going to go down at this point. I think the market is too volatile, with inflation and everything else. I would rather sit on the sidelines and wait for things to stabilize, and look for an opportunity when it presents itself.”

For now, Chaudhry is leasing the property to a friend of a friend, Taran Virk of Allentown, who plans to turn it into a convenience store and gas station called Birdsboro Mart.

“We’re targeting the crowd we have on 422, as well as the people of Birdsboro,” said manager Vikram “Vik” Fnu, of Macungie.

Fnu previously worked in Birdsboro, and is looking forward to getting back in touch with that community. Fnu plans to add a community kitchen to the space, just like Chaudhry planned to.

“Since we have so much parking,” he said, “if somebody wants to join with food trucks, we will welcome him.”



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