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LAKE WYLIE --
Word of possible changes to roadside produce sales in York County isn’t bothering Tim and Phyllis Reid at South Forty Farm on S.C. 274. Rather, they may be just what the couple could use.
“That would help us,” Tim Reid said of a crackdown on non-licensed sales.
York County Council last week passed first reading on an ordinance that would outline what’s needed for selling produce at stands in the county. Two more readings and a public hearing are needed before anything is official.
“What we were looking to do is make sure large scale operations don’t set up shop and stay in business for extended periods of time under the disguise of being a temporary vegetable stand,” said Councilman David Bowman, who presented the issue.
Bowman said his father sold produce grown near their Clover home. Council isn’t looking to curb those sales. Instead, the new ordinance would target larger wholesale operations that often don’t have retail licenses or pay taxes, Bowman said.
“We’ve got to make sure they’re playing fair with the grocery stores and the nurseries close by, and the guys that are doing things right and going through the permitting process,” he said.
Councilman Curwood Chappell, a farmer, said issues like this have been raised before. He even went to the state at one point to urge legislation protecting the local farmer who may bring a truckload of produce for sale on the side of the road.
“I don’t want it messing with what we got passed,” Chappell said of the latest proposal.
Chappell doesn’t have a problem stopping a large wholesale business, he said, but joined other members in saying he wouldn’t vote for anything impacting the “mom-and-pop” operations. A 90-day requirement also bothers him, since many local farmers grow goods for several seasons.
“What about more than those 90 days?” Chappell asked.
The proposal states seasonal produce stands can’t exceed more than 90 days of business in a six-month span. They can’t exceed 400 feet of covered space.The site can not be served by another “primary commercial use.” Stands must be at least 25 feet from any road right-of-way and provide safe, adequate parking. County approval would be required showing those criteria are met.
South Forty Farm is larger than what would be considered a seasonal stand, and the Reids operate from April through pumpkin season in October each year. They’re not worried, because they already run the farm store on S.C. 274 as a business and collect taxes.
“It’s all just like it’s supposed to be,” Phyllis Reid said. “We’re already doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
The Reids say keeping farmers on level ground will help their business, especially if competitors aren’t charging tax or paying other expenses.
“They will work with you,” Phyllis Reid said of the county. “They’ve always been willing to help.”
Councilman Eric Winstead voted in favor of first reading because of small produce stands, not because he wants to harm them.
“If there’s an outfit out there using a loophole in existing language to hurt the mom-and-pop stands, then I want to at least take a look at that,” he said.
Councilman Chad Williams echoed Council concerns for small farmers, and doesn’t want to “legislate some good existing businesses out of business.” But he sees why the issue came before Council, too.
“There’s definitely some situations that need to be addressed,” Williams said.