Section: News

Village Council discusses zoning variances and food trucks

On Oct. 2, the Gambier Village Council met to discuss a variance to Gambier’s zoning ordinance as well as the impact of food trucks for businesses on Chase Avenue.

The council dedicated the majority of the meeting to a variance to the zoning code in response to an objection from Fernando Rodriguez ’04, a Gambier resident. After attending Kenyon and living in Gambier for over 20 years, Rodriguez moved to Georgia last year to take a higher-paying job. Rodriguez wanted to rent out his property short term through Airbnb while he is away. The new zoning ordinance, which was implemented in May, would prevent Rodriguez from doing so. Rodriguez is requesting the exception because he cannot afford to keep the property if he is not allowed to rent it out. “I had to leave for my career, and would love to come back at some point,” he said.  

Rodriguez added that he has a sincere desire to eventually return to the Village permanently. “I love my house, I love my community,” he pleaded. “I don’t have any family in the U.S.  My family is my friends that are in Gambier.” 

Under the new ordinance, Rodriguez would be allowed to rent the property out long term; however, he did not want to do so, out of a desire to visit Gambier and host family from Brazil during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One council member came to Rodriguez’s defense, saying that the ordinance was not made for a situation like this. She claimed that the town made the ordinance to encourage long-term residence by preventing people from buying homes solely for the purposes of Airbnb and vacation homes. “The intention and spirit of the ordinance was not to address cases like these,” she said.  

However, other council members pushed back on Rodriguez’s appeal, saying his case does not meet certain criteria required for the variance and noting the importance of enforcing the code and setting a precedent. Despite pushback, the council ultimately approved the variance unanimously, allowing Rodriguez to do short-term rentals until October 2025, after which time they will reassess the situation.  

During the section of the meeting that was open to the public, Village Market owner Nick Jones voiced his frustration with food trucks being parked in front of the store. Jones wanted to reduce the possibility of food trucks parking in the Market’s loading zone. In addition, he said the food trucks were impacting the business of the Market, and that his sales were down on Homecoming weekend. Jones thinks Gambier should bar food trucks on Chase Avenue to support and prioritize their local businesses.  

Another Gambier resident, Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies and Religious Studies Joseph Adler, also disliked the presence of food trucks due to their noise and appearance. “I didn’t appreciate the aesthetics of the corndog truck. It seemed very much out of keeping with Gambier’s vibe,” Adler said.  

Food trucks currently have to pay $175 to park for a weekend. Upon hearing this, Jones replied, “Can I just buy the weekends then? It would save me thousands of dollars.” Jones expressed his worry that the same issue will arise during Family Weekend, and hopes to reach a compromise with the Council to give the Market more of an advantage. The council agreed to officially put the topic on the agenda for next month’s meeting.  

The next Village Council meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 6.

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