Council OKs Friday flea markets

FRONT ROYAL – Flea markets can run on Fridays but now must pay a flat fee to the town each year.

The Town Council on Tuesday voted 6-0 on changes to local regulations to allow flea markets to operate on Fridays with a special-use permit and to allow for a possible farmers market. The action also means each flea market operator must pay a business-license fee of $500, replacing the annual or daily levy charged to vendors.

Councilman John Connolly made a motion to adopt on its second and final reading changes to the town code to allow flea markets to operate on Fridays with a special-use permit. The original motion also sought to change the license tax for flea markets from a per-vendor fee of $10 per year or $1 per day to a flat levy of $500 each calendar year charged to the proprietor of the business. Councilman William Sealock Jr. seconded the motion.

Before council could vote, Connolly amended his original motion to reduce the proprietor fee to $250. Councilman Gary Gillispie seconded the amended motion.

The business license fee remained the final point of contention among council members as they discussed the levy in work sessions, Connolly noted.

“I’m of the belief that council should be well served to go slow with a radical change like this to the structuring,” Connolly said. “I spoke to many of the vendors that are down there.

“I am convinced that if we go with 500 (dollars), we’re probably going to be forcing the flea market to raise their table fees down there and I don’t want to see that happen so I think if we go with 250 (dollars) and then reevaluate, that’s probably the best for everyone,” Connolly added. “I know there has been disagreement on this on council but I did want to make the amendment and hopefully we can go with the 250 instead of 500.”

Gillispie and Connolly voted in favor of the amended motion. Vice Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Councilmen Meza, Christopher Morrison and Sealock voted against the lower levy. Connolly, Gillispie, Meza, Morrison, Sealock and Tewalt then voted in favor of the original motion, setting the fee at $500 and allowing flea markets to operate on Fridays with a permit.