- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - Yard sale items will not be returning to the Limestone County Farmers Market this season.

Commissioner Jason Black’s motion to allow the sale of non-produce at the farmers market on West Green Street failed without a second Monday morning at the County Commission meeting.

Approved in the fall of 2012, last year was the first full season of a ban on selling yard sale items, antiques and homemade merchandise.

By most accounts, the market didn’t do well last season. Twenty farmers purchased permits. Booth rental is $7 a day, and the market made $2,219 opening two days a week for seven months.

County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said he proposed lifting the ban at the request of some farmers who use the market. At least three farmers approached him about making the change last summer after he won the primary election, he said.

Farmer Fred Sloss Sr. said he thought lifting the ban was a good idea because it would increase the number of potential customers. He said there were times last year when only three or four farmers set up at the market.

However, commission members said all of their calls and emails were from people opposed to the proposal.

“I didn’t hear from anyone who wanted to open it up to yard sale items again,” Commissioner Steve Turner said.

Commissioner Stanley Hill said the farmers market should be for farmers only. He suggested the county should have a separate place for flea market items.

“I’m not against flea markets,” Hill said. “I just think they shouldn’t be together (with the farmers). The farmers market should be a place where people can go down and get their fresh, locally grown vegetables.”

Farmer Kenneth Robinson asked the commission not to lift the ban.

“I couldn’t sell anything when the flea market items were there,” Robinson said. “I sold everything I picked last year.”

Trisha Black, executive director of Spirit of Athens, was against yard sale items before the ban. She led an email campaign last weekend against lifting the ban.

“If it’s not just going to be farmers, don’t market it as a farmers market,” she said.

In an email to commissioners, Trisha Black said new residents and visitors often want to know if Athens has a farmers market, and it creates a bad perception when they find yard sale items are allowed.

“It gives the perception that we are a second-hand community,” she wrote. “Residents that went once during that period likely didn’t come back.”

Jason Black said he supports lifting the ban on non-produce.

“This is county property that’s paid for by the taxpayers,” he said. “Everyone who wants to sell something at the farmers market should be allowed to do so, whether it’s socks, goats or yard sale items.”

Trisha Black said the county could investigate other venues and events where residents could sell yard sale items and antiques. The city restricts residents to four home-based yard sales a year.

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Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml

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