In an 11th-hour save, the City Council voted 6-1 to allow the a full season, extending the city’s special use permit from 15 days to 25 days. The farmers market typically operates 23 days.
Market organizers were notified that the market would only get permits to operate for 15 days, as opposed to its full season of 23 Saturdays. Farmers Market president Michael Charlton told the council at Tuesday’s meeting that he was shocked when he read Leahy’s email.
The Market, now in its 18th year in Woodinville, operated under a special events permit for the past two years. Three years ago, in cooperation with the city, the market moved to its location on 133rd Avenue NE, as suggested by the city manager, according to Charlton.
“We asked what permits were required. We were directed to request the usual sign and International Fire Code permits as well as a Special Events and Right of Way permit. While we did not fit the definition of a Special Event, staff felt this was the best course of action. Two years ago we followed the same path of permitting and again it was noted that we did not really meet the definition of a Special Event, however since this was done successfully the previous year permits were again approved.”
Charlton said when he came before the council on Feb. 21, he was told everything would work the same as it had in previous years, with the same permits process. Then came Leahy’s email. “Frankly, we felt betrayed,” Charlton said.
Leahy told the council he was advised by city attorney Greg Rubstello that the market was being issued permits that were not in keeping with city code, because it operated beyond the 15-day limit. In the end, the council changed the code. Mayor Bernie Talmas cast the lone dissenting vote, saying that he was not opposed to the market, but to the council changing city code in such a rushed manner without a staff report or the new code being fully vetted.
The Sale of Beer and Wine Approved
In a separate action the council approved the sale of unopened containers of Woodinville beer and wine in a 4-3 vote. Again there was no staff report or vetting of a new ordinance, and that is what prompted council members Art Preglor, Susan Boundy-Sanders and Talmas to vote against the action.
Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen said the suggestion to sell beer and wine at the market, allowed under Washington State law if there is no tasting and the containers are sealed, came from Mike Stevens, president of Woodinville Wine Country, a membership organization that promotes wineries in Woodinville.
Talmas again pointed out that the vote was a hasty one with no information to council and Aspen’s comments the only information that was offered. At the end of the meeting, Preglor complained that council has recently been asked to vote on several ordinances and resolutions with no background information or vetting by staff. In the case of the farmers market, he said he was not even made aware of the situation until Monday night.
The Woodinville Farmers Market will open this Saturday, May 5, and operate through October, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.