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Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Future of farmerís market in doubt

New Hailey event ordinance puts pinch on produce

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council is working out the kinks of a new ordinance governing vendors in the city.

The Hailey Farmerís Market, which has been held seasonally on Thursdays for the last 11 years, may be a casualty of the changes.

Last November, the council stopped issuing single vendor permits as a result of complaints from some "bricks and mortar" businesses and difficulties regulating the sale of everything from ice cream to whirlpool spas on Hailey city streets.

Under the new rules individual vendors wishing to do business in the city must make arrangements through a bricks and mortar business or through a special event sponsor.

The council is considering a charge of $75 for two years for special event permits for single entities. Multiple day events could be charged $500 per day for events held on public property. Under the new ordinance business activities may spill over onto public property like sidewalks as long as there are still six feet of access for pedestrian traffic.

On Monday, Mayor Susan McBryant gave the first public reading of the new special use permit ordinance, which establishes rules for business owners and special event sponsors, such as the Northern Rockies Folk Festival.

Business owners or event sponsors must apply for the new permit if they are considering having outside vendors. Vendors may lobby permit holders for space to set up booths in association with the business, but the permit holder must ensure the rules regarding parking and public safety on the permit are followed by all vendors.

Farmerís market organizer Mark Cook would like produce vendors to be able to start selling their goods June 3 to start a 20-week market season, but the city is still between ordinances governing vendors.

"It is a crucial time for the farmerís market," said City Councilman Rick Davis. "(Market season) is coming up pretty fast."

The council has not yet determined a fee amount for special use permits, which is the sticking point for the farmerís market.

Cook said the city used to block off Croy Street in front of the Hailey Public Library for the event. Market vendors were not charged a fee for the use of public property but they were charged $3.15 for the chance to make a profit.

Vendors paid Cook 8 percent of their profits, money that went in part to a school meals program called "Food for Thought." Now each vendor will pay about $40 for the opportunity.

Cook said he got permission from Sturdevants to hold the market in the storesí parking lot but the city is not yet ready to issue the required permit because fees have not yet been set.

McBryant said there is a clause exempting non-profit groups from permit fees and recommended that Cook pursue that avenue in the future.

In the interim, the council decided to issue a temporary permit to allow the farmerís market to operate in the city parking lot at the intersection of River and Bullion streets.

No other permit exceptions will be made. The farmerís market was given special dispensation because the council views it as a successful "community enhancement".

The city plans to charge fees for all events held on public property once a fee scale is set. The interim fee for the farmerĎs market will be $100 per day for a total of $2000 for the season.

Cook said he did not know if farmerís market vendors would still consider Hailey as a viable venue when faced with the fee.

"Weíll make due and see where it goes," Cook said, disappointed that the council did not give the market more support. "Some cityís hire people like me to run a farmerís market . . .it is considered a community asset."


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