Public Hearing: Farmer's Market Ordinance
2010-04-07 6:15 pm
On Wednesday, April 7th at 6:15 pm in the 2nd floor board room of the Lower Merion Township Administration Building (75 East Lancaster Road, Ardmore, PA), the Board of Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing on the Proposed Farmer's Market Ordinance, which would overturn the prohibition on non-resident commercial activity residential areas (§155-11 J-1), and endanger every neighborhood in Lower Merion Township in the process.
There are two other Farmer's Markets in Lower Merion, and neither one of them required any change in the zoning code to bring farm-fresh produce to Lower Merion residents. A farmer's market can be operated on any commercially-zoned property in the township (like the Ardmore Farmer's Market) or any municipally-owned lot (like the Bryn Mawr Farmer's Market). The BOC can even allow the Friends of the Bala Cynwyd Farmers Market to use roadways and sidewalks or create a special district in Bala Cynwyd where a farmer's market could operate freely (the Clover Market will operate in the Ardmore Special Development District beginning April 11th). All of these options have the virtue of restricting the impact of the market to the community that will derive the benefit from its operation, and sparing the rest of the township from any unintended consequences of a wholesale change to the residential zoning code.
These Bala Cynwyd-specific options to secure a site for the farmer's market should be pursued exhaustively before any changes to the residential zoning code are even considered. By taking a deliberate approach to identifying a site for a famer's market in Bala Cynwyd (commercial properties, municipal properties, road closures, special districts), chances are that further consideration of changes to the residential zoning code won't even be necessary.
The Friends of the Bala Cynwyd Farmer's Market are certain to pack the room with their supporters on April 7th and clamor for the BOC to approve this ordinance, but the Commissioners need to hear from residents from throughout the township insisting that changes to the residential zoning code should only be considered as a last resort rather than as the opening gambit.
If your Commissioner voted in favor of advertising this ordinance (Mr. Taylor, Mr. Lindner, Ms. Gelber, Ms. Rogan, Ms. Dellheim, Mr. Manos, Mr. Gordon, Mr. Reed and Mr. Churchill), then contact them and ask them why they feel that changing the residential zoning code is the only way to bring a farmer's market to Bala Cynwyd. If you don't like their answer (or don't get one), then attend the Public Hearing on April 7th and make your case to the BOC that the local problem of finding a site for a farmer's market in Bala Cynwyd should be solved locally rather than endangering every household in Lower Merion Township.
Fresh produce in Bala Cynwyd will be small consolation if it costs us the residential character of our neighborhoods.