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Jul 20, 2010 5:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Farmers Market faces possible shutdown

Jul 20, 2010 5:36 PM

The fate of the East Hampton Farmers Market, the popular produce market at Nick & Toni’s restaurant on North Main Street in East Hampton, hung in the balance on Tuesday as the East Hampton Town Board planned to confer with its attorneys to figure out whether it is legal for the market to be held on the restaurant’s parking lot, even though it has been held there for the past four years and has been operating this summer.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said during the board’s work session on Tuesday morning that he hoped to resolve the situation favorably for the market by Thursday. The market was scheduled to be open Friday.

At issue is the board’s opinion that because the market is held on the restaurant’s property, it is an expansion of the commercial use of the property.

“It’s not that we don’t want it, it’s just that it’s an inappropriate use of the location,” said Councilwoman Theresa Quigley.

But Mark Smith, owner of Honest Management Restaurant Group, which owns Nick & Toni’s told the board that the restaurant does not make any money on the Farmers Market and allows the market to use the parking lot as a public service.

He said he applied for a permit to operate the market several months ago, but it was denied in May. He didn’t learn about the denial until early July.

Mr. Wilkinson apologized for the lack of communication about the permit.

Kate Plumb, who heads the market, asked the board if the market could continue operating until September, despite the board’s concerns.

“I fully support that idea,” said Councilman Pete Hammerle, who added that he disagreed with the rest of the board’s 
opinion, saying the previous Town Board gave permission 
to have the market operate 
on the restaurant’s parking 
lot under a mass gathering permit.

Ms. Quigley said the board has considered moving the market to town land, the Labrozzi/Lester Farm, across the street. But because the land was purchased with CPF funds, it would be illegal to have a profit-making business operate there.

A handful of farmers and other vendors who lease space from the market spoke at the public portion of the work session and said the closing of the market would hurt them financially.

David Falkowski, a farmer for seven years in Bridgehampton, said the farmers market contributed to a third of his revenues for the year.

“I plead with you to continue the market. It’s so important to the vendors,” he said.

Alex Balsam, owner of Balsam Farms, agreed. “I have all this perishable produce to sell Friday. You can’t shut this thing down. It’s a vital part of my business.”

His partner, Ian Piedmont, said, “If there’s any way you could allow the market to be open Friday, that would be important to us. I appreciate your legal concerns, although I don’t understand them.”

Donna McCue told the board she operated a small business at the market. “I couldn’t afford to have the market shut down,” she said.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Smith said he thought everything was okay when he filed for an application for a mass gathering permit in April. “But we got a notice of violation from the Ordinance Department telling us that our resolution was rejected. I called Bill Wilkinson’s office and was told it was denied because the town didn’t want to associate the Nick & Toni’s brand with the farmers market. But it’s not the Nick & Toni’s farmers market. We just provide a venue for farmers and fishermen.”

Mr. Wilkinson said repeatedly during the work session that the issue would be resolved by Thursday.

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This town is absurd they should get a life they just look for things to object to.get on with living and enjoy life. Shut down a farmers market? Please.
By dianne (4), springs on Jul 22, 10 8:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
What is wrong with this new board? Shut down the Farmer's Market?
What are they thinking? Oh, they're not thinking.
By Nancy Q. (27), east Hampton on Jul 22, 10 12:14 PM
Perhaps East Hampton's Board should call Bonnie Cannon, the founder of the Southampton Farmers Market and Town of Southampton Trustee, and find out how hard she fought to have a farmers market in Southampton Village. Or talk to someone over at the Montauk Chamber of Commerce to better understand why local farmers, fishermen and bakers are important to the local Hamptons economy. I hope EH does the right thing and helps everyone solve the problem... Read more on Lighthearted Locavore http://bit.ly/bgqGAY
By vanlexi (8), Southampton on Jul 22, 10 2:28 PM
While it might be rude and politically incorrect to term something "stupid," this honestly has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.

Can't do it on commercial land because it's too commercial...

Cant do it on community land because it's commercial.

Make up your minds people, or just declare East Hampton a socialist state.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Jul 22, 10 5:03 PM
Come on now, don't confuse socialism, with a communist dictatorship.

Socialism, what a maligned term these days...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 27, 10 11:14 PM
Here here! For goodness sakes .....it's a stinkin farmers market! Let it be. Who cares if it was an extension of Nick and Toni's ? Local people selling fresh food etc. Let's just worry about bigger things...PLEASE!
By private (27), sag harbor on Jul 23, 10 7:22 AM
Leave the farmer's market alone!
By ehboardwatcher2010 (21), sag harbor on Jul 23, 10 1:23 PM
ehboardwatcher...spoken like a trully disgruntled former Town employee who knows nothing about the law.
By formertbm (76), east hampton on Jul 23, 10 5:23 PM
By ELECTRICUTIONER (65), east islip/montauk on Jul 24, 10 2:46 PM
Farmer's Market? No way. Corporate franchise? No problem.

Just gotta grease the right palms ...
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 25, 10 5:05 PM
They need their palms greased, because of all the hair on them from what they're doing the majority of time they should be working!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 27, 10 10:09 PM
Figures they got nothing else to do, so shut down us locals and farmer trying to help our families survive.
By BVF (2), southampton on Jul 25, 10 9:29 PM

Oh - -god help us ---we elect people to represent us and then they make our way of life more difficult with more rules and regs - - -
--Noah Way from Southampton ----- is "right on" - - - -
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on Jul 26, 10 5:50 PM
It is absolutely astonishing that local politicians all over the East End fight libraries and farmers markets while bending over backwards to accommodate rezoning requests by big developers and donors. This year seems particularly outrageous and I can only hope voters are energized next time.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jul 26, 10 10:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
What we really need is leadership that refuses to be "brainwashed by the Benjamins", and act in the interest of the people who are the cogs of our local community.

And I agree, this has been one outreageous year, from PDDs, to libraries, to "Main Streets".

What we desperately need is a law that disallows contributions to ANY political party by developers, or special interests. Of course, the same groups will probably hire high priced, pin stripe suited lawyers to pick the legislation ...more
Jul 27, 10 11:20 PM appended by Mr. Z
Oh, wait, that's when the serious problems began...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 27, 10 11:20 PM
According to the Supreme Court, money is speech, and there are no limits on it.

The problem is not just political contributions, it is outright graft, bribery and conflict of interest, including the hiring of town employees as consultants to developers.

Historical tidbit: Former supervisor Vinnie Cannuscio, who accused a cell tower developer of trying to bribe him some 6 months after the fact, had his case thrown out of court when it couldn't be determined from audio tapes whether ...more
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 29, 10 5:37 PM