By Kathryn G. Menu
Last month, what began as a routine review of a request by the seven-year-old Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market to continue its operations at village property on Bay Street this summer turned instead into debate.
Members of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees raised questions about the legality of a winter market that has been held indoors in recent months — featuring non-food goods — as well as fees paid by vendors to be a part of the market and whether or not the village should collect a larger slice of the pie for allowing the market to take place on village property.
However, after receiving information from market managers Ivo Tomasini and Ana Nieto about how the not-for-profit operates and how the winter farmers’ market came to be, during the board’s Tuesday night meeting it unanimously approved the market’s use of the Bay Street property for the summer season — which runs May 21 through October — without charging the group the $100 fee it asked for last year.
“It was the fee structure that brought this to light,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride to David Falkowski, a Bridgehampton farmer and one of the original members of the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market.
Falkowski explained that the seasonal fee of $450 which each of the 20 vendors pay to be part of the Saturday market is a fee structure designed by the organization as a group at the start of each season. The money covers advertising costs, insurance fees and the manager’s stipend.
He added that at the summer and fall farmers’ market, the group is committed to self-policing itself to ensure that vendors are not selling anything but food-stuff, with the exception of a t-shit or tote bag.
In a memo provided to the village board, Tomasini and Nieto submitted proof of insurance from all the vendors, as well as pouring permits that allow wine vendors to pour samples of their products at the market. They also agreed should the market need to move to accommodate a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation clean-up of oil underneath the property — which is still being explored by the state agency — it would do so.
“The market is operated on a not-for-profit basis, in other words it is operated ‘at cost’ so as not to generate profit from the vendor’s fee,” they add in the memo.
The winter market, the memo notes, is a separate entity from the summer farmers’ market and should have been renamed as such. Nieto and Tomasini, who run the winter market as well, said they would like to work with the board of trustees to ensure the winter market is in keeping with what is allowed in the Village of Sag Harbor.
In the meantime, the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market will be open every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. starting May 21.
In other news, a proposed law to legalize the right of residents to have chickens on their property will likely be introduced next month, according to Gilbride.
Last month, Sag Harbor resident Mare Dianora proposed a new law that would amend the village code to allow residents to keep chickens subject to a special permit. The number of chickens or bantams — a small variety of poultry — could not exceed three per 5,000 square-feet of lot area, with a maximum of 10 allowed on any property.
According to Gilbride, village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. is looking at similar legislation from other municipalities and will likely have a draft of the village’s proposed chicken law ready for introduction at the board’s June 14 meeting.
“Without a lot of problems we could see this happen in July or August at the latest,” said Gilbride. “We are moving forward with this.”