Midtown Raleigh News

Boylan Heights farmers market gets permit to continue

Customers shop at LoMo Market, a mobile farmers market during the summer of 2012 at Saturday Market in Boylan Heights.
Customers shop at LoMo Market, a mobile farmers market during the summer of 2012 at Saturday Market in Boylan Heights. 2012 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

RALEIGH Boylan Heights art gallery Rebus Works will get to keep its weekly farmers market after the Raleigh City Council voted to issue the event a permit.

The Saturday Market, which features fresh produce and food trucks, has come under fire from neighbors who say the popular event doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood. Opponents said the street closures block access to neighboring businesses and visitors fill on-street parking spaces generally used by residents.

The six-month permit was granted after the Boylan Heights Neighborhood Association discussed the controversy and reached a compromise: Rebus Works will maintain car access for its neighbors and keep amplified sound to a “background music” level. The gallery had sought permits for a full year.

“By establishing a six-month threshold, I think it allows the market to build trust among the neighborhood and holds Shonna (Greenwell, the gallery owner) accountable,” Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin wrote in an email to a market opponent.

The compromise got support from the neighborhood association in a 28-7 vote, leaving some neighbors unhappy.

“The Saturday market is right in front of my home, and it is disruptive,” Kinsey Street neighbor Jade Brennan wrote to the council ahead of Tuesday’s vote. “I can hear the music from my bedroom in the morning, it creates parking issues on the street, and it looks like a flea market.”

Some neighbors say they’d support occasional events in Boylan Heights – such as the annual Art Walk on Sunday – but weekly festivities are too much. “Closing a street in this residential neighborhood every Saturday for one year should not be considered as ‘temporary,’ ” Brenda Corwin wrote to the council. “Numerous people feel that this is asking too much.”

Baldwin said the owner of the building that houses Rebus Works didn’t know about the weekend events, which sometimes include wrestling matches and food truck rodeos in addition to the farmers market. The owner has since banned the wrestling events, which draw some of the largest crowds.

Councilman Russ Stephenson said the kerfuffle illustrates the need for zoning inspectors to work weekends, as their current weekday schedule misses the many outdoor festivals and events in and around downtown.

“If we have these new, innovative events, then we should have some inspectors out there to make sure we keep track,” he said.