Fort Mill farmers market coming soon to downtown

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 22, 2013 

  • How did the Strawberry Festival do? Organizers are estimating a record Friday night crowd and, despite colder weather Saturday, on-par overall participation in the South Carolina Strawberry Festival, held the first week in May, compared to last year. Parks Director Brown Simpson updated Fort Mill Town Council at its May 13 meeting by saying final crowd tallying isn’t in yet, but the event earlier this month was “right around where we were last year.” He did say the 18,000-20,000 people on Friday night were a record gathering. ” More than $12,000 in charitable giving came from the event to groups helping with various activities.

— A new farmers market in Fort Mill is likely just a few weeks away from opening, following a key town approval last week.

Among a variety of votes at Town Council’s meeting May 13 was one amending a zoning ordinance on permitting for special events and temporary uses. A review of the existing ordinance came up when the Fort Mill Economic Council inquired about setting up a weekly farmers market in the downtown area.

Downtown, or in areas zoned like it, a farmers market permit must be renewed annually and a market can’t take place more than once a week. Produce, meat, dairy products, baked goods and plants are allowed. Up to 20 percent of available vendor space can be used for handmade arts and crafts items, given they’re being sold by the artisan. Reselling and consignment aren’t allowed.

The amendment to allow such a market also includes several “housekeeping” changes, according to the staff report provide to Town Council. A new set of recommended standards will be used to evaluate temporary use permits, which now will be issued by the town zoning administrator rather than a building official.

Temporary real estate offices also can be open longer.

Louis Roman is a board member with the Economic Council, and is hoping to sign a lease any day for the market set to open either the first or second Saturday in June. Pending the lease, the plan is to hold it in the First Baptist Church parking lot just off of Main Street.

“We covered quite a bit of ground in a short amount of time,” Roman said.

The seasonal venue will be open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. each Saturday. Roman expects a “true, old-time farmers market” where whatever is in season is available. Vendors even will agree to spot checks where market organizers can stop by farms to see what’s being grown and where.

“It will be all local,” said Economic Council board member Janice May. “If it can’t be grown in the area or produced in the area, we’re not going to sell it.”

Other business

Town Council took up a variety of issues at its May 13 meeting. Others included a vote to add four homes to a pre-approved water and sewer agreement for what will be Lakebridge, an approved bid of just less than $20,000 for roof repairs and maintenance at the Banks Street Gym and the first of two approvals to annex Pleasant Knoll Elementary School.

Once in foreclosure as a different project, Lakebridge will have 53 homes just outside of town limits on Hensley Road. D.R. Horton is building the project. The 49 lots approved by the town for water and sewer in 2004 were hooked into the system and transferred in 2008. Only the four additional lots, which would be used for model homes, need adding in now.

“The infrastructure was there in the existing subdivision except for those four lots,” Town Manager Dennis Pieper said.

Added into the approval was that the subdivision will be annexed into town limits if and when it becomes contiguous.

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