Town Hall Notes: Do farmers market sales help or hurt the farmers?

JULIE LANE FILE PHOTO | Greenport Farmers Market organizer Lara McNeil serves soup on Oct. 15, when the market closed for the season.

Southold Town recently received three requests to open farmers markets, and since there’s no mention of farmers markets in the town code, board members are scratching their heads and wondering whether they should encourage them.

Laurel Lake Vineyards, which last year hosted an occasional offshoot of the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market, would like to make the market a weekly event this year. The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund and a property owner on Elijah’s Lane have also asked the town if they can open markets, Supervisor Scott Russell said at a Town Board work session Tuesday morning.

Mr. Russell said he hasn’t seen much interest in the markets from local farmers, and he’s worried they may face unfair competition from markets that don’t have to adhere to the town’s zoning rules.

In Greenport, the operators of last year’s downtown farmers market, who must pay a $2,500 permit fee to return this summer, say they’re considering other locations. See page 22.

The town Zoning Board of Appeals processed the special event permit for Laurel Lake Vineyard’s market last year, and ZBA chairwoman Leslie Weisman said she wants the Town Board’s feedback on whether the term “farmers market” should be added to the zoning code.

She said the proposed weekly market at the vineyard “is beyond the scope of what the code intended,” but added that “some of these creative marketing strategies are successful and enjoyable.”

But, Ms. Weisman said, farmers markets had been traditionally held in urban areas without access to fresh food, not in the middle of farming communities. Unlike farm stands, farmers markets are also able to take food stamps and WIC checks, making them a good source of fresh food for low-income families.

Mr. Russell suggested that the town’s agricultural advisory committee weigh in on the proposals.

“I don’t want to create a situation where we have unfair competition for local farmers unless the farmers see it as a benefit to the industry as a whole,” he said.


Police Chief Martin Flatley has just compiled police statistics for the past three years, which revealed a big uptick in the number of burglaries in Southold, an increase of over 60 percent since last year.

“That seems to be a recurring trend that everyone is dealing with,” he said, adding that the Suffolk County Police are also dealing with an increase in burglaries.


After the town completed an environmental impact statement on shortening the jetty on the west side of Goldsmith Inlet two years ago, the Town Board in a 5-1 vote decided not to accept the report.

Mr. Russell, who at the time cast the only vote in favor of accepting the document, put the plan on the table again Tuesday.

This time he had more support.

Councilman Al Krupski said the situation has gotten worse on the east side of the inlet and he’s willing to revisit the proposal.

“Something’s changing there and it probably should be looked at,” he said.

Mr. Russell added that dredging the inlet is an annual Band-Aid, not the solution to the continuing erosion and water flow issues.


The owners of the Southold Indian Museum have approached the supervisor’s office to ask if the town wants to buy the museum, said Mr. Russell.

He said he thinks a historical society would be a better choice.

Town Board members plan to discuss the matter with the museum’s board in the upcoming weeks.

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