Frederick County Council Discusses Bill To Increase The Number Of Farmers Markets

It  would make it easier for these activities to take place.                                                                          


Frederick, Md (KM). Legislation to make it a little easier to hold farmers markets in Frederick County was discussed Tuesday by the County Council.

Councilman Steve McKay, whose sponsoring the bill, says current regulations do not define farmers’ markets, and there are areas of the county where they are not permitted. He noted they  are not allowed in areas zoned general commercial. “So if somebody takes a corner, a little chunk of the big parking area of the FSK Mall, and put a farmers’ market in there on the weekend, the answer would be no because it’s the wrong zone,” he says.

McKay says he worked with the County’s staff on drafting this bill. He says he learned recently that a deli in Urbana, Pumpernickel and Rye, wanted to hold a farmers’ market in their parking area, but were denied an application to do so. But, he says, a farmers’ market is allowed in the Urbana Library parking lot  on weekends. “So we’re saying yes to some  and no to others with really no concept of the activity in the ordinance to based those decisions on,” he says. “I mean, really nothing close.”

McKay this legislation defines  a farmers’ marker in the zoning ordinance, and allow them in areas zoned village center, mixed use and general commercial. They could also be within mixed development and Planned Unit Development overlays. They’re already allowed in areas zone institutional.  The County’s Zoning Administrator would determine if the site is adequate based on whether it’s compliance with all safety, health and environmental standards and not a detriment to the area The site would have to be sufficient size for a farmers market with 50-feet from all adjacent property lines. There would also have to be a safe and orderly flow of traffic; and if there is musical entertainment, it would have to end at dusk.

If the applicant meets all the requirements, a temporary use permit would be issued for up to 120 days.

“Nobody ever raised this issue before,” said Councilman Kai Hagen, who called it “amazing.”

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater also reacted positively. “It’s supporting our local small business owners and our farmers,” says Fitzwater. “People enjoy be able to buy locally, and still having more opportunity for farmers markets and having something more specific on the books makes a lot of sense.”

Mike Wilkins, Director of Development Review and Planning, says there would not be any additional fees for anyone applying for a temporary use permit to hold a farmers’ market. “This is a zoning certificate process.”he said. “We already have a zoning certificate application and fees are already established and our fee schedule for this activity. There is no need for new or additional fees to be considered.”

Councilman McKay is expected to formally introduced this bill next Tuesday. But there could be a change. During the discussion on the  legislation, it was suggested that the length of the temporary use permit be extended from 120 days to 180 days.


By Kevin McManus