City Studies Market Options — Brevard NC

Source: The Transylvania Times – September 17, 2012 | Vol. 126-No. 75 

A permanent location for a farmer’s market in Brevard is something city officials are beginning to explore.

The issue of a permanent market was among the public feedback the Brevard City Council heard prior to adopting its community development strategy and vision during its February retreat, said city Planning Director Josh Freeman.

There was a “clear” sense from the community that it “valued the Tailgate Market,” Freeman said. The community likes to be able to buy fresh vegetables and other food items, enjoys the market’s energy and vibrancy, and wants it to be located in the city, he said,

It’s important to note, however, Freeman said, that council didn’t direct staff to develop a farmer’s market specifically for the existing Tailgate Market.

The details of who manages it, owns it and the beneficiaries aren’t laid out in that goal.

“The city has not sat down with the Tailgate Market to try and find a way to get (it) a permanent facility,” Freeman said. “(The city) is trying to get the public a permanent facility with all the different beneficiaries having to fit into that process.”

Council told staff to present a number of options for the development of a farmer’s market that takes into account several considerations: What is the market potential in the county? What is the best design for a market facility in the county? What is the minimum property size and configuration that are necessary to support a farmer’s market? What physical location would best serve market customers? Can a farmer’s market be situated in such a way as to stimulate additional commerce and investment in surrounding businesses and properties?

City staff will present a number of options for a farmer’s market design, management and location at, or before, the council’s next retreat in February.

Finding a farmer’s market location overlaps with the city’s current work on assessing parking needs and sites for parks and community spaces. A farmer’s market is also listed in the county’s Farmland Protection Plan. In 2009, the county adopted the plan, which sets a number of goals and objectives to support agriculture.

This year, the city council adopted the plan, including an addendum that sets out policy goals specific to Brevard. One goal was to explore the development of a permanent farmer’s market.

To help with its assessment, the city is working with the local N.C. Cooperative Extension office.

The Extension Office has issued a survey to Tailgate Market vendors and customers. The same survey will be presented to the general public. Like those associated with the Tailgate Market, the city views the former Brevard Lumber Co. site on Railroad Avenue as just an option.

Freeman addressed a recent letter to the editor in The Transylvania Times, which suggested the city has already made the decision to move the Tailgate Market to Railroad Avenue.

No “deal” has been done to locate it to the Brevard Lumber site, Freeman said.

“The City of Brevard has made no promises or decisions regarding the relocation of the Tailgate Market or future investments in a public market,” Freeman said. “However, if city council chooses to make such an investment, that decision will be made openly, transparently and after considering all the applicable options and variables, including public input.

“Policy decisions get made in public meetings before the planning board, board of adjustment and city council, and all citizens are invited to attend and observe the decision making process.”

The Tailgate Market, which has also indicated it has made no decision on where it plans to move to, is a stand-alone organization and is not directly controlled by the city. The city’s only authority is whether such a move complied with its zoning authority.

When the city was working on its Railroad Avenue small area plan, the Brevard Lumber site’s suitability for a farmer’s market was mentioned, but it is one of a “number” of sites being looked at by the city.

The city has talked to the site’s owner, Josh Leder, as a stakeholder in the Railroad Avenue community.

Freeman said they asked Leder what his plans where for the site, and Leder said it would be “good” for a farmer’s market.

The facility itself, Freeman said, would lend itself to a “nice” location because of the infrastructure and facilities already in place.

“A farmer’s market could be established on that site quite easily, with only a few modifications to accommodate parking, bathrooms and other amenities,” he said. “However, while facilities and ease of entry are important considerations, geographic location and the degree to which a farmer’s market could generate synergistic economic benefits by being located close to other businesses are critically important factors. For those reasons, city staff is examining a broad range of options beyond Brevard Lumber Co.”