A popular Lake Norman farmers market will soon be no more, at least at its current perch at the Lowe’s YMCA in Mooresville.
Josh’s Farmers Market must pack up its pumpkins and 2 acres of fresh vegetables and other selections by the end of the month, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte told The Charlotte Observer Sunday.
Halloween will be the market’s last day, spokeswoman Heather Briganti said in an email.
Mooresville has issued ongoing daily fines at the Lowe’s YMCA because the city considers Josh̵[ads1]7;s to be a “full-time retail business,” not an “outdoor seasonal sales market,” city officials said in a news release posted on Facebook, NextDoor and other platforms Saturday. .
And that means Josh’s will have to operate in a building, as the city’s 1,800 other retailers do, according to the press release.
An “understanding” that Josh will leave the site was reached during a recent meeting with the Y, the city of Mooresville and market representatives, according to the YMCA statement Sunday.
“The YMCA is committed to compliance with the Town of Mooresville’s requirements, and to continued service to the Mooresville community and its residents,” Y officials said in the statement.
Josh disagrees with finding the town
The market disputes how the city classified its operations and is appealing the fines, said Garrett Deweese, the brother-in-law of market owner Josh Graham.
Graham was 10 when he, his brother and grandfather began selling produce from wheelbarrows in 1990 along nearby Williamson Road, Deweese said.
All of the market’s produce is seasonal, Deweese told The Charlotte Observer at the market on Saturday, locally sourced and home-grown vegetables and other offerings.
Josh, at the same time, is not year-round, he said.
Road widening forced relocation
The market spreads over 1 1/2 to 2 acres next to the Lowe’s YMCA, which allowed the market to operate on the land after the market was forced from its longtime perch on Williamson Road. The city’s widening of busy Lake Norman Road displaced a number of businesses.
Josh’s has a “use contract” with the Lowe’s YMCA, which means the market takes full legal responsibility for anything untoward that might happen at the market, Deweese said. That includes paying to appeal the fines the city has issued to Lowe’s YMCA as a property owner, he said.
The city claims the market grew over the years “from a temporary produce stand to a full-fledged retailer” that even sells furniture and outdoor storage equipment and buildings. So it needs a “permanent retail facility,” according to Saturday’s release.
The market has nowhere else to go right now, Deweese said.
As of Oct. 6, the YMCA has incurred $1,500 in fines, according to Danny Wilson, director of planning and community development in Mooresville.
“For now, the fines have been withheld, as the violation was appealed by Josh’s Farmers Market,” Wilson said in a statement to the Observer on Saturday.
The Mooresville Board of Adjustment will hear the appeal at an upcoming meeting, Wilson said.
“Town Staff has met with the YMCA and Josh’s Farmers Market on several occasions in recent months in an effort to have the outstanding violations resolved before fines were assessed,” according to Wilson’s statement.
“Unfortunately, the property has not been brought into compliance with city bylaws,” he said.
In Saturday’s news release, officials said the city “is proud of the partnerships we have with the approximately 1,800 businesses that call Mooresville home. We hope that Josh’s Farmers Market is able to continue to serve the residents and visitors of Mooresville within the same guidelines that govern other businesses in our community.”
What started as a fine of $100 per day for each of 14 violations will mushroom to $500 per day per violation on Nov. 7, Deweese said.
All of the violations, such as the one issued for where a truck was unloading merchandise, are related to Josh not being in a building, he said.
Attempt to find a website
The city has been working with Josh’s since 2020 to find a place to build a building, both sides say.
Josh thought it had the perfect location, 4 acres the market bought on a nearby road, Deweese said. But a required traffic study found potential traffic problems with a required road exit and entrance, he said.
Selling local produce — and outdoors — reflects the Y’s mission to build a healthy spirit, mind and body, Deweese said.
“I think it’s the community aspect that we offer,” Deweese said of the market’s important role for the public, “and the health and wellness aspect of bringing fresh produce to the community.”
This story was originally published 16 October 2022 11:58.