Merchandise at farmer’s market questioned

Selectmen raised concerns about what's being sold at the West Tisbury Farmers Market. - Rich Saltzberg

West Tisbury selectmen may summon the building inspector to explain his interpretation of zoning following one selectman’s queries about nonagricultural products for sale at the farmers market. 

Town administrator Jennifer Rand informed the board Wednesday evening that the West Tisbury Farmers Market would like to extend its outdoor dates on the grounds of the M.V. Agricultural Hall through October, and operate from 10 am to 1 pm instead of 9 am to noon. 

She also said no indoor market is planned this year, and if the weather is good enough, the farmers market may consider continuing through November outdoors. She noted Brendan O’Neill, executive director of Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS), has been consulted.

“VCS is actually the decision maker in this process,” Rand said, as far as the agricultural preservation restriction (APR) on the property. 

“I wouldn’t agree completely, but that’s good enough for now,” selectman Skipper Manter said.

Chair Cynthia Mitchell said she thought the West Tisbury conservation commission needed to sign off on the times and date changes.

Rand said while they are also stewards of the APR, the control lies with VCS.

Manter said he walked through the outdoor farmers market a month ago and saw products that may be restricted from sale. “There was a lot more being sold there than is allowed by our zoning bylaws,” he said. 

He asked if the matter could be looked into.

Rand said the building inspector has done so.

“Well, then, I’d like him to come in and explain why some of those items are being allowed to be sold,” Manter said.

“It’s a percentage from my understanding,” Rand said. “I’ll ask him to come in, but it’s a percentage of total product.”

“Eighty percent has to be farm stuff,” selectman Kent Healy said.

“If he could just reference in the zoning bylaw where I find that,” Manter said.

Rand noted the question had been “asked and answered,” but would research further.

“I’d like to know where the answer came from. That’s all,” Manter said.

“OK,” Rand said. 

“If Joe needs to come in and explain to us, we can do that,” Manter said. “But let’s find out first.”

The board took no vote on any matters related to the farmers market.