Farmers markets can open in Fairfield industrial zones under new rule
Farmers markets can harvest customers at new spots in town, following the Town Plan and Zoning Commission's approval Tuesday of an amendment to the designed industrial district regulations.
The amendment was proposed by 85 Pond Mill, LLC, which owns the Sportsplex on Mill Plain Road. Under the new regulation, anyone wishing to open a farmers market in a designed industrial zone will have to submit a zoning compliance. The new rules require, among other things, that the proposed location for seasonal market must be within 100 feet of a food service. That limits the number of sites that potentially would be able to comply with the regulation.
While the owners of The Stand, a juice bar and vegetarian cafe at the Sportsplex are interested in opening a farmers market there, they have not yet submitted a zoning compliance application.
That led to confusion during the early discussion of the amendment by TPZ members.
"Although I agree I would like to see more farmers markets, I don't think this is the best location for it," Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi said of the Sportsplex site. "It's over-parked now."
"We're not approving the location at the Sportsplex," Chairman Matthew Wagner responded, just voting on possibly "amending the regulations to allow them to make an application."
But Commissioner Anthony Calabrese, who works for the town's Recreation Department, which is headquartered at the complex's entrance, said no one is against the markets. "Is the industrial zone the proper spot for a farmers market?" he said. "I don't know, personally I don't think it is." Calabrese was the only commissioner to vote against the amendment.
Alessi said those were good points and there are other places in town that might be more appropriate for such markets, and would not require a zoning amendment.
There are seasonal farmers markets held in the lot at the Greenfield Hill Mercato and the Greenfield Hill Grange, and at one time, a market was held in the parking lot at the Fairfield Theatre Co.
TPZ member Jim Kennelly said markets in other areas of town could serve residents who wouldn't travel the distance to Greenfield Hill markets. "I think some of these designed industrial districts could be places in the eastern part of town," he said.