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Flagler Beach Retreats From Clumsy Attempt To Regulate Farmers’ Market, But It Isn’t Over

| September 25, 2014

A city commissioner called the Flagler Beach Farmers' Market as iconic as the city's pier. (Flagler Beach Farmers' Market)

A city commissioner called the Flagler Beach Farmers’ Market as iconic as the city’s pier. (Flagler Beach Farmers’ Market)

On Aug. 19, eight vendors who regularly sell at the weekly Flagler Beach Farmer’s Market got a worrisome letter from city government: “Kindly be advised,” the letter started, “that the approved types of market vendors permitted to conduct business at the Farmer’s Market may be changing.” The letter noted a proposed ordinance about to start going through the city’s deliberative steps and that, “contingent upon the ruling of the City Commission, certain vendors may be notified to cease operation.”


Zoee Forehand was stunned. She’s run the farmer’s market on her property in the center of town for 35 years, with her husband William. It’s what her attorney, Dennis Bayer, described as the longest-operating business under the same continuous ownership in the city. She never got the letter. She had to play catch-up, and did, getting her hands on the proposed ordinance and other records, and finding along the way that the city attorney had spent just over $1,000 to draft the proposed ordinance. She and William had been in frequent contact with Bruce Campbell, the city manager, but they were never previously told of the proposal.

The proposed ordinance does not go anywhere near suggesting that the market should be curtailed, let alone pushed out. But Bayer says “it’s so incomplete, it’s so ambiguous, it’s so vague,” that it can be interpreted to mean that the market’s operations will be curtailed, and its vendors micro-managed.

And the city administration appears to have severely bungled the roll-out of the proposal—first, by not giving the Forehands a heads-up that the proposal was coming, or engaging them in conversations ahead of time, since the ordinance e targets their business exclusively; second, by targeting individual vendors at the market and possibly alarming them needlessly; third, sending the proposal to the Planning and Architectural Review Board, the advisory board that first examines proposed ordinances before recommending approval or rejection to the commission.

When Bayer and the Forehands appeared before the commission Thursday evening to decry not only the method in which the proposal was rolled out, but the substance of the proposal, they got more sympathy than not from the commission.

“I guess it’s legal but it just doesn’t seem right,” Mayor Linda Provencher said, summing up the commission’s concerns.

“Your farmer’s market is as much of an icon as our pier, as our beach, as any other part of what we know Flagler Beach to be,” Commissioner Joy McGrew told the Forehands. She called the process “a faux pas.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time this commission has scrapped a whole regulation and started from scratch,” Commissioner Steve Settle said.

Bayer wanted the proposal scratched. Settle wouldn’t go that far. He wanted the Forehands, Bayer and the city attorney to confer and see what could be salvaged from the ordinance, and perhaps come up with a different draft before it makes its way to the PAR Board.

That’s what the commission agreed to. It was a substantial victory for the Forehands, but not the end of the battle. The city still wants some form of new regulation of the market on the books. But the difference is that this time, the market’s owners will be part of the original drafting process.

It’s not exactly clear how the proposal got as far as it did without more explicit direction from the city commission. In February the commission passed an ordinance regulating food trucks in town but exempted the Farmer’s Market, since its vendors are all mobile by definition. The presence on one occasion of a food truck that wasn’t a regular at the Farmer’s Market drew a complaint that contributed to the movement toward a new ordinance regulating the market. That proposal limits what sort of business may be at the Farmer’s Market, prohibiting, for example, food vendors who prepare food on site, for consumption on site. The proposal also sets out specific hours of operation for farmers’ markets, though those hours parallel those of the existing market.

“It’s not our intention to fill our property with food trucks,” Zoee Forehand said, but at the same time she did not want the city to dictate operations. “We’re really fighting for our business rights here, we should not be dictated to as to what we can and cannot sell.”

Forehand got an ovation from a large audience she had mobilized for the occasion.

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15 Responses for “Flagler Beach Retreats From Clumsy Attempt To Regulate Farmers’ Market, But It Isn’t Over”

  1. AceDeadEyeJohnson says:

    Just change the name from ” Flagler Beach Farmers Market” to ” Gambel Rogers Farmers Market”…..you dumb asses need to get some hobbies…..its a frigin farmers market….ahhh

  2. DoubleGator says:

    Stupid. Never any complaints from the public and certainly something that brings folks to Flagler Beach to spend money. Why don’t we mess with it just because we can ………. stupid.

  3. Rich says:

    I don’t believe food truck should be allowed at the Farmers Market. That being said that after being a customer of some of these vendors since 1980 the market has become an integral part of the community. We even adopted our senior “puppy” from the Humane Society after seeing her at the market. In short, Commissioners…”DON’T SCREW UP A GOOD THING’!

  4. Concerned says:

    The Farmers’ Market is an integral part of our community, and it is with dismay that I find the city commission doesn’t seem to understand that. Instead of trying to make the market smaller, the commission should be helping to grow the market in any way it can lend a hand. Instead of looking for ways to hurt, commissioners, why not try helping? If all the brick and mortar restaurants in town can stand to compete with each other, does the council really think Maria selling her olive bread one day a week will destroy business for sweet confections, and where can you go to a ‘store’ in town and get a snappy garlic stuffed olive? Sometimes it really appears our City is just making stuff up to create problems where none exist. Please, try helping instead.

  5. GY says:

    Leave the Farmers Market alone. They do good things for the whole community. Zoe and her people work hard and know what they’re doing.

  6. Sherry Epley says:

    Geez. . . first the local ice cream truck gets hassled by some of the commissioners and now this! What is so terribly WRONG with food trucks? In moderation, when the food passes health and safety standards, they add to the FUN of a day at an open air market. Would the vendor who sells freshly prepared peanuts be labeled a “food truck”? Why not allow a maximum of say 2 or 3 trucks at the Friday and Saturday Farmer’s markets? That would be a good compromise. Commissioners, do you know the word COMPROMISE?

    Please, please STOP trying to over-regulate our small businesses and vendors to the point that they are OUT OF BUSINESS! With in reasonable boundaries, please allow our community and culture to grow “naturally” and let “free enterprise” and the consumers in our community determine what kinds of vendors will thrive at the Farmer’s market.

  7. Rob says:

    And I thought that Palm Coast had the lock on being unfriendly to business.

  8. Shelia says:

    Farmer’s Markets are held in every large city and small town across, THE WORLD. This a big part of the small town charm of Flagler Beach. Just wondering why you are doing this? Maybe there is something else a miss. Big DEVELOPER MONEY COULD BE INVOLVED!! Sneaky is not the why to do public business.

  9. Citizen says:

    Thats the problem with these Commissioners, one complaint from their family or friends and they try to change everything! Please try to be professional as you are representing OUR City.

  10. JG says:

    I thought maybe the Commission was just trying to make the Albanian baker lady feel like she was back in her Stalinist homeland. As Ron White says “You can’t fix stupid!”

  11. THE VOICE OF REASON says:

    I can see why the city would want to limit, or restrict entirely, food trucks because they would compete with existing brick and mortar businesses contiguous to the site, such as Salty Dog, Giuseppe’s and Giovanni’s, among others.

    But from the way the story describes the ordinance, it would oust the Peanut Lady and the Kettle Corn Guy, too, both of whom prepare their foods onsite and are often consumed onsite. The city has an interest in managing the types of businesses in the city, but needs to do a better job of drafting its ordinances, especially at $1,000 a pop.

  12. Concerned says:

    Actually, the vendors who received the letters were the ones who provide prepared foods such as the baked goods vendor, the olive/pickle vendor, etc. The City somehow has the idea that theses types of vendors are competing with brick and mortar businesses. We do have bits of sweet confections locally available on some days, but no real bakery so I don’t see the issue, but I’m not on city council and looking to cause discord in our community. That rather seems to be where the city officials have been going these last few years. They might take exception to such a broad statement so I’ll list: removing the benches at the Pier (after the public got testy they put them back), attempting to oust the sitting chair because of – no reason given, trying to change the name of Gamble Rogers STATE Recreation Area. There are so many others, but you get the idea. It’s really is time the City tried lending a helping hand rather than creating problems where none exist.

  13. Daniel says:

    VOTE them out. All problems solved. : )

    • gb says:

      Ditto, Daniel.

    • Bill Hazz says:

      Even IF that happened, it doesn’t, by itself, stop stupidity. Very few of our elections actually give Flagler Beach voters a choice, most run unopposed. There are definitely a couple of commissioners that I hope don’t repeat.

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