YORK — The York County Council held off on a proposal to prevent some large produce operators from taking advantage of allowances for small, mom-and-pop roadside stands.
The changes, which came up for public hearing at the council’s Monday night meeting in York, would limit properties where vendors set up produce stands and the size of their footprint. The council sent the plan back to planning officials for changes with little discussion.
The details are taking shape, said David Pettine, York County planning and development director.
The proposal limits space for roadside stands to 400 square feet but doesn’t specify whether use could extend beyond that – a problem planning officials will address in the revision.
The proposal also would prevent roadside stands from setting up on properties with another primary commercial use, but county officials see that as “too broad of a brush to paint with” – which could lead to unintended consequences, Pettine said Friday.
No one spoke in support of the changes Monday, and only one person came to speak against the plan: John Gargiulo, a Tega Cay resident whose Fort Mill produce stand prompted the complaints driving the proposed changes.
“We feel like we’re a dying breed, and our industry isn’t going to make it much longer,” Gargiulo said, pleading with thecouncil specifically not to limit the time he can operate.
The proposal doesn’t change how long stands can set up, planning officials have said, but the size and property requirements being proposed could force Gargiulo to reduce his operation or move.
Council Chairman Britt Blackwell and Councilman Eric Winstead said after the meeting they don’t want any rule changes that will negatively impact the “mom and pop” size ventures, not referring to Gargiulo’s business, Brenda’s Produce, which Gargiulo and his wife, Brenda Gargiulo, own.
Councilman David Bowman asked planning officials to look into revising the county’s roadside produce stand rules after hearing complaints about the stand, which is closed for the season.
When open, the couple sells produce underneath a large tent on the property of Evans Tire and Wrecker Service on S.C. 160 near Zoar Road. They have a refrigeration unit, power and a phone line there. The couple buys produce from North and South Carolina farmers and other states six months out of the year.
The size and scope of the operation concerned Bowman along with the fact that the stand was set up on the property of another business. The question, he said, comes down to whether it’s fair to allow a roadside stand that verges on providing the same services as a commercial grocer to set up temporarily.
Never had an issue
Gargiulo says he’s worried the proposed changes are aimed at preventing him from running his business at the wrecker company’s site.
“They don’t want me at this location,” he said Friday. “I did business three miles down the road for 10 years, and never once had an issue.”
Gargiulo has been selling produce in temporary stands for more than a decade in the county, and as his business has gained success, it’s grown in size, he said. He has another site across the state line and sells Christmas trees during the holidays.
Eddie Moore, who oversees code enforcement for York County, said Friday that in March the county received the first of the complaints about the stand.
The county doesn’t police businesses looking for code violations. Enforcement is complaint driven. Following up on complaints, county code enforcement officers asked Gargiulo to reduce the size of his sign and move his tent to comply with existing rules, Moore said.
Eddy Evans, who owns the business property where Gargiulo has his stand, said Monday afternoon that he and Gargiulo have never had any problems until now. He criticized the county for threatening Gargiulo’s business.
“You don’t need to step on toes messing with his livelihood,” Evans said, adding that the problem is the result of people getting involved in other people’s business. “I have a tendency to sweep my own porch; I don’t have time to sweep anybody else’s.”
At the end of the meeting Bowman, whose term ends in December after he didn’t seek re-election, put forth several proposals he wants the council to consider:
• Reduce the county’s 2 percent hospitality tax by half to save county taxpayers’ money
• Ask York County voters in a referendum whether they want a road maintenance tax. The county has money for new road projects but little for maintenance and state resources are scarce, he said.
Consider creating a county business license, which would hopefully be available for free but would give the county more leverage over businesses that repeatedly violate state or local rules.
Jamie Self 803-329-4062