Selbyville one step closer to hosting farmers’ market

The Selbyville Planning & Zoning Commission voted this week to recommend that the Town Council approve a request for a farmers’ market to be held at the corner of Route 17 and Williams Street in Selbyville.

Berlin, Md., resident Jeannie Mariner had approached the council Jan. 9 for permission to host a weekly farmers’ market at the lot her family owns in Selbyville.

Town code does not explicitly permit farmers’ markets, so Mariner applied for a conditional use for the property, which is officially zoned as historic business, at District 5-33, Map 16.16, Parcels 170.00 and 172.00.

Mariner said she aims to host market on Saturdays, beginning this spring. The tentative hours would be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with one hour for setup and cleanup. The Historic Lewes Farmers Market is the nearest farmers’ market that also operates on Saturdays, she said.

Only goods produced on Delmarva would be sold, including vegetables, meat, dairy, jams, honey, bread, wine and locally-made crafts.

“The idea is we want people in this area to know there’s local sources of food and you can get locally better than what’s trucked in,” Mariner said.

A total of 43 booths could fit onto the Selbyville property, and 34 of those vendors could park adjacent to their booths. Although the market is not likely to begin with that many vendors, Mariner said other local markets have a vendor waiting list.

Vendors must fulfill all state and local license and permit requirements for public sale of products, and they will sign a vendor contract before approval of their booths.

There would be no trash receptacle onsite, and salespeople must clean their areas before leaving each week. Portable toilets would only be onsite on Saturdays.

The only permanent structure would be a gazebo, which could serve as an information booth, food-tasting area or bandstand. Although it would have no permanent foundation, the gazebo must be structurally sound, commissioners officials told Mariner.

Mariner said she plans to create a gravel parking lot with 25 spaces, including handicapped-accessible spots. A mulch path will lead through the market.

Some people had noted the lack of visibility for cars entering Route 17, so Mariner said traffic could enter the market site via Route 17 and exit via Williams Street.

She said she has not determined a weather policy. On rainy days, the market could close to prevent wear and tear on the ground, but vendors who pay for the whole season would need reimbursement.

Mariner discussed her hopes for signage at the market and on roads entering town. Mariner can apply for a permanent sign permit at the property, but the commission rejected hosting permanent signs on town property. Because the market is privately owned and not town-sponsored, other businesses might then want to post signs there, too, they said.

Mariner said she intends to apply for Delaware Department of Transportation signs, such as official “Agricultural Attraction” signage or temporary open house-style signs. Main Street, Route 17 and Route 113 are state-owned roads, so DelDOT could grant permission.

The Department of Agriculture will have some oversight, but only to ensure the market has correct weights and measures, proper display methods and no harmful products, Mariner said. The market will have personal and product liability.

“I don’t see a problem,” said Councilman Jay Murray. “It sounds like a good thing if it was run properly … a good opportunity for the town and townspeople.”

Mariner’s original request at the Town Council meeting Jan. 9 raised some citizen concerns about parking and safety, but the Jan. 26 Planning & Zoning meeting was only 20 minutes long, with unanimous support from the committee. The town council will vote on the market at their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 6.