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Planning commission votes ‘no’ on conditional use permit for 2nd farmers market

January 18, 2019

SPEARFISH — Based on city staff’s recommendation pertaining to parking, traffic, and public safety, the Spearfish Planning Commission Tuesday voted unanimously not to approve a request for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a second summer farmers market on the same day and time as the current market across the street at Brady Park along Meier Avenue.

The request, made by Kayla Rippe, was to have an outdoor seasonal “Neighbors to Neighbors” farmers market on former Passion Play property west of Meier Avenue. A CUP would be necessary for the location as the property is in a one- and two-family residential zoning district, and outdoor seasonal vending is considered a type 2 retail use.

The proposed market would be once weekly, on Saturdays during June through September, and possibly into October, weather-permitting, with customers able to shop from 9 a.m. to noon. The site would be rented; it is privately-owned by Lookout Enterprises, LLC.

Addressing the commission Tuesday, Rippe explained that since the last meeting, she had found an additional parking solution, describing that vendors from both markets would be able to park at the former Passion Play amphitheater parking lot after setting up their booths prior to the start time of the markets, allowing for all of the Brady Park and private parking lot spaces to be used for customers. She also offered to make signs of her own to direct customers to parking, safe pedestrian crossing, etc. Rippe added that the idea is that the revenue would remain in Spearfish, with fees used to rent the space, pay for insurance, etc.

“To be frank, I just want to sell my stuff, and I want to sell it in an atmosphere that’s fun and inviting,” she said, thanking the commission for considering the request.

Assistant City Planner Desirae Mayo presented the staff findings. The staff report for the Jan. 15 meeting states that “This request was evaluated according to the review criteria of the conditional use permit standards … Staff disagrees with the applicant’s assessment of the impacts …” due to the proposed market operating on the same day and time as the Spearfish Farmers Market across the street.

Issues including the traffic flow, available parking, and public safety, related to pedestrians crossing the street, were examined in the staff report. “The street already has existing parking issues and the proposal would add traffic to an area that is already impacted,” the report states. “If the location or day of the Neighbors to Neighbors Co-op Market changed, the impacts would be less concerning.”

The city received written comments related to the request prior to the public hearing Tuesday, during which four people spoke. The Spearfish Farmers Market sent written input to clarify that Rippe resigned as a vendor from the Spearfish Farmers Market in August; the Spearfish Farmers Market had not been contacted by Rippe to discuss collaboration with the Neighbors to Neighbors market; and that the Spearfish Farmers Market has concerns regarding public safety, parking, and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access.

“We believe having activities on both sides of Meier Avenue raises a safety issue for all customers,” the undated written input from the Spearfish Farmers Market states. “We are particularly concerned about smaller children as they are frequently allowed to play on the playground equipment while their parents shop around them. Since everything is centered in one location, there has not been a safety issues associated with this. … Another safety concern is the pedestrian traffic as cars back out of parking spaces.”

Chris Sherrard, a producer who lives in Wyoming and is a vendor at several area farmers markets, wrote in support of the request, in a letter to the commission dated Jan. 9.

“I am excited to attend this market that will allow a variety of vendors to attend, not jurying the vendors which I personally witnessed at the Spearfish Farmers Market,” she wrote. “Competition of vendors creates more choices for customers which creates more customers. … I am so looking forward to the market being fun again where friends can meet for the common good of all who attend.”

Commissioners asked Police Chief Pat Rotert about the public safety concerns, and he explained that parking and traffic issues exist already at the current farmers market.

“ … when you decide to add density to that already, I can’t see where you’re not going to have continued issues, if not more, and the one piece that it adds, that doesn’t exist at all right now, is people crossing that street. … You can put signs, official city signs, whatever you want; they’re going to cross it where they want when they want,” he said.

“To be honest with you, if this was a different day and a different time, probably not an issue … trying to do them both is too dense for the traffic patterns, for pedestrians, for the lack of parking,” Rotert added.

Commissioner Toby Bordewyk asked if street closures could be a workable solution; Rotert said that he would not support closing Meier Avenue or Grant Street and added that looking at the conditional use permit criteria, street closure in residential areas would be a major impact.

Following discussion, Commissioner Bob Meyer made a motion to approve the request, which was seconded by Commissioner Meghan Byrum. During discussion, they both made clear that they did not support approving the CUP.

“It seems that there’s a difference of opinion relative to the safety issues involved, the parking, and traffic, and it seems to me that the expertise that exists on the side of staff and police department, to me, is much more significant than other opinions,” Meyer said.

Byrum echoed Meyer’s sentiment, describing that with Rotert’s description of parking issues in the past, “that’s not something that we want to see exacerbated.”

“While the idea of an additional market is a good one, since there hasn’t been appropriate following of the regulations, parking or otherwise, it might be a better idea to move for a different location or time,” she said.

Commissioner Kruskamp echoed the comments already stated, as well.

“I support the farmers market 100 percent,” he said. “I think that if the reason we were looking for another expanded location was because the original site was at capacity, that would be a different conversation. I still would have concerns with parking, and flow, and traffic, and safety, but I think based on other options to have the market at a different location or different day, I think there are alternatives to solving what issue has been identified today.”

The motion failed with no votes in support of approving the CUP as requested.

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