Farmer Tests Market Produce Restrictions

January 30, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Should Bachman Valley farmer John D. Myers Jr. be allowed to sell food at his farm market on Littlestown Pike that he doesn't grow himself?

Myers said he did it for years at a market on his farm on Old Bachmans Valley Road. The county zoning enforcement chief has chargedthat it's a violation of zoning law.

The question was raised in 1987 and resulted in a lawsuit that went to the state Court of Special Appeals. The court issued a decisionlast year but remanded the question to the board.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the county Board of Zoning Appeals heard testimony on the most recent charge, which was filed in October. Zoning enforcement chief George L. Beisser said he visited the market Oct. 6 during an apple festival and found items on sale that were not on a county list of approved items.

The board also heard Myers testify Tuesday that he wants to open a garden supply center and arts and crafts shop at the market on Littlestown Pike, north of Stone Road.

If the board gives Myers permission to open the garden supply center and arts and crafts shop, part of the violation would be moot, Beisser said.

Board chairman John Totura said the board will issue a written decision within"a reasonable period."

Myers, president of the Carroll County Board of Education, grows fruit, vegetables and grains at his Bachman Valley farm.

He testified that for the farm market to be successful,he must sell items other than fresh fruit and vegetables, such as milk, bread and canning supplies.

Beisser said when he visited the farm Oct. 6, Myers was selling bananas, oranges, peanuts, Utz and Motts products, flour, candy bars and other items.

Beisser described the market as "a convenience store where you could purchase a full-course meal, including dessert, without a meat entree."

In its March1987 decision to give Myers permission to open the market on Littlestown Pike, the board said it did not want the farm market to become agrocery or convenience store.

The first charge against Myers was filed in September 1987. The board decided in February 1988 that Myers could sell only fresh fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce, jams, jellies, cider, apple butter, canned peaches and baked goods made by Myers' daughter.

Myers appealed the decision to Carroll County Circuit Court, which said the board's decision was "arbitrary and capricious" because there was no logical way to determine what Myers was allowed to sell.

The county then appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which ruled in March 1990 that the Circuit Court had erred in ruling that the board had the authority to allow Myers to sell anything other than fresh fruit, vegetables and farm produce.

Myerstestified Tuesday that he wants to sell shrubs, mulches, Christmas trees, fertilizer, small garden tools, baskets, fresh and dried flowers and similar items at the garden supply center and arts and crafts shop, which would be in the same building as the farm market.

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