Ocean City Farmers Market returns to Gold Coast Mall grounds | New

Code change will allow operation on 115th Street

Organizers of the Ocean City Farmers’ Market had no trouble last season transferring the success of their range of local produce stalls to a new location behind the Gold Coast Mall.

And now, with the help of a city code amendment, they’re looking to create a more permanent home at the 115th Street location.

Planning commissioners voted last week in favor of a recommendation to add farmers’ markets to the list of permitted uses in the low-density single-family residential R2 zone. The change is necessary so that the owners of Wimbrow Farms, which put farmers on the market, continue to operate in the location behind the mall where they moved last year.

Phyllis Wimbrow, co-owner and operator of Wimbrow Farms, told commissioners the market, which is entering its 30th year, has been successful at the new location. It previously operated for 28 years in the lot of the now closed Phillips Seafood House on 141st.

“Owning the mall has been wonderful for us,” Wimbrow said.

The Wimbrows were allowed to move into the residential area last year under a temporary use permit granted due to covid. But now, with the permit no longer available, planning and development director Bill Neville said a more permanent solution was needed for the market to operate on the mall site.

Staff members developed a proposed addition to the code for the residential area that would specify farmers’ markets as conditional uses.

Neville explained that the city didn’t have a definition of farmers’ markets, so staff used one provided by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The department defines a farmers’ market as “a public space where fresh foods from a defined local area are sold by the people who grew, picked, raised, or fished them.”

Wimbrow said the Farmers’ Market has eight vendors who are set up in what Neville said is 105,000 square feet, or about 2.5 acres, of space at the north end of the mall’s parking lot. Wimbrow pointed out that the cabins take up less than an acre of space, with the rest of the area dedicated to parking and space for customers.

The planning commissioners discussed adding a minimum space requirement as part of the approval, but decided against it, as any application must still obtain a conditional use permit before approval.

The code amendment was one of four the planning commissioners discussed at last week’s meeting.

They approved an amendment that allows tandem parking as use at hotels, motels and other commercial developments in response to a request from developers of a proposed complex in Margaritaville on 13th and 14th streets.

The other two called for changes – changing the definition of family to add adoption and increasing the number of people allowed in a living unit; and change the definition of employee housing — have been tabled.

This story appears in the April 29, 2022 print edition of OC Today.

James V. Payne