Farmers’ Market Vs The City: Selling Fresh Food is not Always Easy!
by FarOutRadio Featured Columnist, Heather Callaghan
In June, we reported on a David and Goliath fight between a longstanding farmers' market in Mount Jackson, Virginia and the city. It was a nonsensical decision on the city council's part to require the market operators to cough up $15-20,000 to pave a lot that had been used successfully on gravel for years. For the sake of "aesthetics." (Note: city councils are hurting their own economies for the sake of cookie-cutter appearances) It was literally 'Pave or Get Out.'
The market only wanted an extension, not exemption (although other businesses are getting exemptions left and right). Unlike businesses that operate all year round, they needed to at least open their doors to have funds available for the newly required lot. They have essentially operated as a service to the historic town, not as a profitable business.
So the market sued, not for monetary means, but as an injunction to stop the shut down and allow for time to repave. A catch-22 like this for the market could mean permanent shut down. The filing did require damages for the loss in operation funds, not by their own doing.
In July, the market reported:
For those following our parking lot issue, we received a response from the Town's attorneys: Hall, Monahan, Engle, Mahan & Mitchell out of Winchester, VA.
It is estimated that retaining such a firm will cost the Town approximately $5,000, and perhaps another $5,000 to go to court, plus whatever a judgement the Judge may decide.
Boo-hoo. The city is shooting itself in the foot financially by not allowing the market to operate and continue restoring value to an abandoned building they purchased.
What we fail to understand is that our Town leaders could have simply chosen to grant us an extension, free of charge, when we requested it. Everyone (us, our vendors, our community, and the Town leaders) could have come out Winners.
The Town could have also offered us a portion of the $100,000 in Economic Development Authority funds that is supposed to be used to develop business in Mount Jackson. The Town would have looked like heroes; and we would have had our parking lot paved, our doors open, and been contributing tax revenue to the Town by now.
Hey – why don't they use part of those Economic Development Authority funds to actually help their city's economy?? Because they are not actually intended to help small operations or the city or the residents. See my "hint" at the end. The market continues to reiterate the nonsensical injustice of allowing other business to have unpaved lots. They've even outed the hypocrisy coming from city council with their special exemption overrides for their personal pet projects.
Again, a total throwback to Animal Farm where some are more equal than others. How could anyone not surmise that there is a heavy bias against letting the market operate? The farmers and vendors have lost out this summer as well. Residents who longed for this year's local booths must take their money to other towns or big-box stores.
On August 8, the market had to attend a new hearing on a Demurrer (legal term for a pleading that objects to the filing).
Unfortunately, the court sided with the city.
Mount Jackson Farmers' Market reports:
We wish we had better news to report, but the bottom line is that the Town "won" today's case regarding our request for a "declaratory injunction", mostly based on technicalities.
The Judge dismissed the evidence we had presented, rightly so as it did not pertain specifically to the motion before the court.
We now have 30 days to appeal.
Meanwhile, on the drive home, we were greeted with all the examples of Mount Jackson's arbitrary and selective enforcement of the Codes. That aspect of our plight basically needs to go before a different court.
Just another bump in the road in our drive to support the local community and local farmers, and to improve a historic building in Mount Jackson.
"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war." – Donald Trump
Without my disappearing down a giant rabbit hole – would anyone like to weigh in on why bureaucrats everywhere seem to be in a coordinated, Borg-like effort to destroy the local economy, community assistance, and legitimate actions for townspeople to "go green"? Some "city development and sustainability" moves include getting rid of the homeless, banning the feeding of them, shutting down children's lemonade stands, forcing residents to get rid of front yard gardens, tearing up community gardens, making it impossible to even offer free services and more. What does that sound like to you?
Interestingly, they do this in the face of voter disgust, outcry and even national negative attention.
Why?? Here is a HINT
See original story:
Farmers' Market Sues City over 'Pave or Vacate' Mandate