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Silverdale Farmers market controversy still lingering

At left, Laura Pittman of Ambergardens of Port Orchard chats with a customer at Pittman’s booth at Silverdale’s Farmers Market. Market managers and the county are still discussing the number of signs the market may have. - Photo by Kelly Everett
At left, Laura Pittman of Ambergardens of Port Orchard chats with a customer at Pittman’s booth at Silverdale’s Farmers Market. Market managers and the county are still discussing the number of signs the market may have.
— image credit: Photo by Kelly Everett

The Silverdale Farmers Market may have finally found a home — even though some controversy still lingers.

Bounced around from place to place the past few years, the popular market is now ensconced in a parking lot of the WestCoast Silverdale Hotel, N.W. Bucklin Hill Road.

Although there were concerns over county paperwork and permits, the principals of the market and the county now say they’re pretty much on the same page.

Certain individuals disagree.

Hank Mann-Sykes of the CK Community Council characterized county requests for permits and limited signage as “harassment.”

“The parks department didn’t want them at the (Waterfront) park. Then they were at the fairgrounds (for a while) ... We’ve got local people here (in the Farmers Market) trying to compete with major ‘box’ retail stores,” he said July 17 at the council’s regular monthly meeting.

Kevin Wojcik, manager of the hotel and a Chamber member, said “communications” have been a problem, and he understands how the market people feel like they’re “being pushed out again.”

He added, however, that it looked as though market management had “their ducks in a row” and things would work out.

The county’s position:

“The Farmers Market operates on the hotel grounds and utilizes the front parking area. They have a variety of booths, some vending food snacks and crafts. They operate independently of the hotel but with the hotel’s permission,” said an inter-office e-mail from the county’s Department of Community Development (DCD), released to the press by Kelly Robinson, manager of land-use permitting.

The e-mail, along with phone discussions with Robinson, indicates the DCD wants the market to adhere to the usual county codes concerning traffic flow, fire safety, signage, food handler permits, parking, water, electric, etc. A pre-application meeting is tentatively set for Aug. 5 to bring market management and representatives of the various county departments together.

The meeting will hopefully produce a “summary letter” containing conditions of approval. The market would have to apply for a temporary commercial permit for the season, and renew it each year.

“We don’t want to stop them,” said Robinson in a phone interview. “But we are going to limit the number of signs; (and) with a written (summary) in place, we can actually defend the Farmers Market against complaints against them. It’s for their own good. ... We think (the market’s) a great idea, we just want to make it legal.”

Market manager Monica Phillips seemed unconcerned about permits and paperwork when interviewed Tuesday, July 16.

“Our biggest gripe is that they let other farmers markets have more than two signs, but we’re limited to just two.” she said. “We’d like at least 10 signs in Silverdale and Bremerton ... to remind people we’re here.”

During the summer months, the market is open every Tuesday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with about two dozen vendors.

Robinson said the Farmers Market in Silverdale is the only market under county jurisdiction, and that other markets are in incorporated areas such as cities or special districts which have different rules on the number of signs allowed. In the county, a farmers market can only have two signs.

“And even those we’re allowing aren’t up to code,” he said of the sidewalk signs.

This is the second year the market has set up at the hotel, said Phillips. Prior to that, the market spent two seasons at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

“But they kept moving us around,” complained Phillips. “We had no permanent spot.”

Prior to the Fairgrounds, the market was on hiatus. Years ago, it used to be at Silverdale’s Waterfront Park, but “This was off the beaten path,” Phillips said. “There wasn’t enough traffic.”

Phillips said all the paperwork is out of the way, they’re just waiting to meet with county personnel to draft the summary so they can get on with business.

As discussions with the county have continued, the market has been allowed to operate as usual, said officials.

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