Town takes up flea market rules again

FRONT ROYAL – The Town Council plans to takes up new rules again for flea markets Monday.

The council and the Planning Commission, along with town staff members, have spent the better part of the year considering a request by one flea market owner to operate on Fridays.

The council plans to hold a public hearing on a proposed change to the town code that would allow flea markets to operate on Fridays with a special-use permit subject to standards and review and potentially to host a farmers market. Another proposed change would impose a flat license tax of $500 per calendar year on the proprietor of the flea market rather than the current, per-vendor fee of $10 per year or $1 per day.

The council discussed the request at a work session on March 20 and then referred the matter to the Planning Commission for further consideration and a possible recommendation on March 27. The town scheduled a public hearing for July 24 but postponed the matter to allow staff to re-advertise amendments pertaining to opening on Fridays and the license fee. The council reached a consensus at a work session to propose a $250 license fee. The town scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 14. The motion to change the town code to allow Friday openings and a $250 fee died for lack of a second. Prior to the meeting, two council members were heard discussing the idea of increasing the fee to $500 but they could not do so without the town holding another public hearing. Town staff re-advertised the public hearing for Monday and included the $500 fee.

So far, the council has heard from a few supporters of the request to operate flea markets on Fridays. At least one business owner has asked officials to apply rules already on the books fairly to all flea markets.

Some council members have expressed concern over the fact that the town stopped collecting fees from Andrick’s flea market several years ago.