At the April 2013 Mount Jackson Town Council meeting, on behalf of the Mount Jackson Farmers' Market, its vendors, farmers and customers, I requested an extension to use the gravel lot at the former Farm Bureau Building on King Street, explaining that the market was in the process of filing for nonprofit status, and explaining both my intentions and the challenges that we have faced in paving the lot.
In a letter to the editor published on May 31, Councilman Todd Holtzman took it upon himself to twist the transparency we shared at the April meeting.
He stated that the town cannot "cherry-pick businesses to exempt," yet there are a number of Main Street businesses operating with gravel lots.
He also stated an "already approved" location on Main Street for a farmers' market. When was this approved? I have attended practically every council and Planning Commission meeting over the last 10 years. Reviewing the minutes online of those meetings I was unable to attend, in addition to serving as a committee member on the town park design meetings, and there has never been mention of such an approved location. If, in fact there was a site approved for such a market, why were we not informed of this at the submission of our zoning application in August 2011, or at any subsequent public meeting, of which there have been many, regarding the market? The town had no problem cashing our check for the $200 special use permit we were required to get.
The Mount Jackson Farmers' Market is about providing a community gathering place, bringing over 150 people to downtown on Saturday mornings; supporting the few remaining local farmers; supporting other local businesses; and being part of the redevelopment of a long-vacant downtown historic property.
At the same April council meeting, Holtzman stated, "If you don't like it, don't vote for me."
Voters of Virginia Senate District 26 will do well to remember this arrogance and lack of support for local farmers, small businesses and constituents when Holtzman runs for the State Senate seat in 2015.
Gerald Forsburg, Mount Jackson