F’ville tightens up on local flea markets
The move to put restrictions on flea markets in Fayetteville passed by a 4-1 vote at the Sept. 6 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council. Front and center in the amended ordinance is the prohibition of flea market sales in parking lots.
Councilman Paul Oddo cast the vote opposing the amendment. Oddo after the meeting said, “I think the regulations are not necessary. I think we should have studied it for six months to see if there were any problems.”
Though rules governing flea markets previously existed, city Director of Planning and Economic Development Brian Wismer in an Aug. 3 letter said the intent of the ordinance was to provide formal guidelines for flea markets and not to prohibit them. Those guidelines would come with high standards of performance, he said.
Prior to the vote, the ordinance allowed sales in parking lots, while the amended ordinance prohibits those sales. The need for the amendment is due largely to the city not having the staff to enforce the previous version of the ordinance, said Wismer.
Wismer said city staff has fielded numerous citizen complaints and concerns about existing flea markets, adding that those businesses have created the need for ongoing staff inspections due to code violations and general safety concerns. Those concerns pertain primarily to conditions in the parking lots.
Though the city is sympathetic to the current business climate, Wismer said previously, the prolonged downturn in the economy has made flea markets a more popular business model for generating income. Wismer also noted that the emergence of flea markets can lead to a negative public perception that commercial development in the area is declining.
The ordinance allows flea markets as special exceptions only in the C-3 (Highway Commercial) and M-1 (Light Manufacturing) zoning districts. The ordinance sets parameters for zoning, licensing, establishes interior design criteria and prohibits vendor sales in parking lots.
As for the various vendors at Fayetteville Market Day and the distinction between that venue and that of a flea market operation, Wismer said Market Day is city-sponsored and operates only six times per year as opposed to flea markets than can be open year-round. The city also ensures that safety and sanitation precautions are taken in the highly-visible Market Day operations in downtown Fayetteville.