West Tisbury select board members voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize the West Tisbury Farmers Market to continue operating through October, per its special permit. Selectman Skipper Manter had previously raised questions about the zoning lawfulness of goods sold at the market, and also rekindled past concerns of his about whether uses of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Hall grounds were in accord with the agricultural restrictions on the land.
Nevertheless, Manter made a motion to extend the market right off the bat when chair Cynthia Mitchell opened the topic up. Ahead of the vote, Manter said he’d conferred with town counsel.
“Town counsel called me today, which is rare,” Manter said. “He suggested that the farmers market be allowed to continue through the rest of the year per their special permit, but I didn’t want to have too much conversation with him. He kind of talked about having another meeting in the very near future to discuss the issues at hand, rather than waiting until the spring. Not just the farmers market, but some of my concerns about the APR and zoning …”
Manter went on to say he was in favor of extending farmers market dates through October, with the caveat that town counsel Ron Rappaport come before the board in two weeks to discuss “the big picture.”
“I see no reason to talk about this again until the season has ended,” Mitchell said.
“I’d just like to get it off my chest once and for all,” Manter said of APR and zoning concerns he had. “Then you can stop listening to me.”
“Do you promise?” Mitchell asked.
“You know, I just might,” Manter said.
Market co-manager Collins Heavener asked if the market staff would be included in the discussions with Rappaport.
“It would be certainly in a public meeting,” Mitchell said. “Absolutely.”
Selectman Kent Healy told the board he reviewed bylaws and regulations relative to the Ag Society land and the farmers market, as he said he would last week.
He said it appeared “they’re meeting all their obligations.” He added, “I think they’re doing a good job.”
Dr. Michael Jacobs, a longtime Vineyard Haven private practice physician, spoke in support of the market. “The farmers market this year has been exceptionally organized, supported by the board of health, run to the best of everyone’s ability, and I must say from a medical point of view, it’s been one of the safest places for the Islanders to obtain produce,” Dr. Jacobs said.
He went on to laud mask wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitation at the market, and praised the community and the farmers for the work they have put into it.