Plano City Council passed a new health ordinance at its meeting Monday evening that effectively kills any chance of a farmers market operating in the city, while promising to convene a committee to recommend ways to amend the ordinance to make farmers markets possible.
With most of the councilmen and Mayor Phil Dyer vowing that they wanted Plano to have a farmers market, the council voted 7-0 to pass a regulation that restricts farmers markets in Plano from selling anything but produce but demands that any Plano farmers market install permanent coolers and freezers to handle potentially hazardous food like meat, eggs and dairy—products that could not, under the regulations provisions, be sold anyway.
In other words, the regulation treats farmers markets as if they were supermarkets, creating an insurmountable economic barrier to running a farmers market in Plano (to say nothing of the confusion around what they can sell).
And now that the regulation is on the books, a committee is going to be convened, led by Councilman Pat Miner (he volunteered), to come up with changes to the reg that will satisfy Brian Collins, the Director of Environmental Services for Plano, while allowing a farmers market to be up and running by April.
At least that’s what the Mayor said he wanted (to nods from all the councilmen and women present).
Just ask Kari Gates how she thinks that will go. Gates, a Plano organic produce grower, has been spearheading the effort to start a farmers market in Plano for the past year or so and has spent countless hours in meeting with Collins and his staff trying to get them to write a regulation that would allow her group to start a market.
Obviously they are not good listeners.
But ever the optimist, Gates is ready to meet whenever and wherever Councilman Miner wants. “I have several volunteers who are willing to join me in any meeting with the city, but I’m skeptical that we’ll be able to hammer out an agreement in time to launch a market in April,” she said.
“It’s a shame that our Collin county neighbors in McKinney and Frisco have been able to work with their health departments to have thriving markets while Plano citizens have to fight an overly zealous health department to have one here.”
Stay tuned for further developments.