TEMPERANCE — Bedford Township soon will have its own weekly farmers’ market, if the board can work out liability and zoning issues related to holding it at the township hall.
A group called the Bedford Farmer’s Market has worked since late last year to get a market up and running. As envisioned, it would be held every Saturday from June through October from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot in front of the township hall.
Market supporters see it as an amenity that would improve Bedford’s quality of life by stimulating the local economy, encouraging family activities, and allowing shoppers to buy fresh, locally grown produce from area farmers.
“The Bedford Farmers Market will be a community experience where you can meet your neighbors, friends, and farmers, and where more of your dollar will stay in the community,” advocates Alie Miller and Patricia Galdeen told the board in a PowerPoint presentation.
The idea seems to have universal appeal. Last week’s regular board meeting was packed with people who spoke in favor of the market and repeatedly broke into applause.
The only potential glitch is the proposed location. No one opposed holding the market at the township hall, but there were words of caution.
R. LaMar Frederick, a former Bedford Township supervisor and retired Monroe County commissioner, advised the board to address carefully the potential liability and zoning issues involved in holding a commercial activity at the township hall.
The township’s attorney, Philip Goldsmith, offered similar advice in a letter but did not attend the meeting because officials are trying to hold down legal fees.
The board considered postponing a vote on the township hall site but gave a conditional approval at market supporters’ urging. The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Larry O’Dell dissenting. He said the vote should wait until after questions about liability and zoning had been answered.
Trustee Nancy Tienvieri favored voting last week. She noted that events routinely take place on public property such as schools, and other Michigan communities have held farmers’ markets on municipal property.
Supporters said they had looked at other sites, but those were not consistently available on Saturdays.
Ms. Miller and Ms. Galdeen said markets in Dundee and Perrysburg were two successful models Bedford could follow. They said the market should have free admission and charge vendors $75 for a half season or $125 for a full season.
This would not be the first farmers’ market in the township. One has been held in downtown Temperance since 2008, but it will be dropped this year, said Gail Keane, one of the speakers.