NC town fines YMCA every day for a healthy outdoor activity that’s now getting booted.

A popular Lake Norman farmers market will soon be no more, at least at its present perch beside Lowe’s YMCA in Mooresville.

Josh’s Farmers Market must pack up its pumpkins and 2-acres worth of fresh veggies and other selections at the end of the month, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte told The Charlotte Observer Sunday.

Halloween will be the market’s last day, spokeswoman Heather Briganti said in an email.

Mooresville has slapped ongoing daily fines on Lowe’s YMCA because the town considers Josh’s to be a “full-time retail establishment,” not an “outdoor seasonal sales market,” town officials said in a news release posted on Facebook, NextDoor and other platforms Saturday .

And that means Josh’s must operate in a building, like the town’s 1,800 other retailers do, according to the news release.

An “understanding” that Josh’s will leave the site was reached during a recent meeting involving Y, the town of Mooresville and market officials, according to the YMCA statement Sunday.

“The YMCA is committed to being in compliance with the Town of Mooresville’s requirements, and to continued service to the Mooresville community and its residents,” Y officials said in the statement.

Josh’s disagrees with town finding

The market disputes how the town classifies its operation and is appealing the fines, said Garrett Deweese, brother-in-law of market owner Josh Graham.

Graham was 10 when he, his brother and grandfather started selling produce out of wheelbarrows in 1990 along nearby Williamson Road, Deweese said.

All of the market’s produce is seasonal, Deweese told The Charlotte Observer at the market on Saturday , locally sourced and homegrown vegetables and other offerings.

Josh’s at the same time is not year-round, he said.

Road widening forced move

The market spreads across 1 1/2 to 2 acres beside Lowe’s YMCA, which let the market operate on its land after the market was forced from its longtime perch on Williamson Road. The town’s widening of the traffic-clogged Lake Norman road displaced a slew of businesses.

Josh’s has a “use contract” with Lowe’s YMCA, meaning the market takes full legal responsibility for anything adverse that might happen at the market, Deweese said. That includes paying to appeal the fines the town has issued to Lowe’s YMCA as the property owner, he said.

The town contends the market grew over the years “from a temporary produce stand to a full-fledged retailer” that even sells furniture and outdoor storage equipment and buildings. So it needs a “permanent retail sales facility,” according to Saturday’s release.

The market has no other place to go right now, Deweese said.

Fines on hold

As of Oct. 6, the YMCA accrued $1,500 in fines, according to Danny Wilson, Mooresville director of planning and community development.

“Currently, the fines have been stayed, as the violation notice was appealed by Josh’s Farmers Market.,” Wilson said in a statement to the Observer on Saturday.

The Mooresville Board of Adjustment will hear the appeal at an upcoming meeting, Wilson said.

“Town Staff has met with the YMCA and Josh’s Farmers Market on numerous occasions over the past several months in an attempt to have the outstanding violations resolved before fines were assessed,” according to Wilson’s statement.

“Unfortunately, the property has not been brought into compliance with Town ordinances,” he said.

In Saturday’s news release, officials said the town “is proud of the partnerships we have with the approximately 1,800 businesses that call Mooresville home. We hope that Josh’s Farmers Market is able to continue to serve the residents of and visitors to Mooresville within the same guidelines that govern other businesses in our community.”

What started as a $100-a-day fine for each of 14 violations will mushroom to $500-a-day per violation on Nov. 7, Deweese said.

All of the violations, such as the one issued for where a truck unloaded goods, are related to Josh’s not being in a building, he said.

Efforts to find a site

The town has worked with Josh’s since 2020 to find a site on which to put a building, both sides say.

Josh’s thought it had the perfect site, 4 acres the market purchased on a nearby road, Deweese said. But a required traffic study found potential traffic issues with a needed road exit and entrance, he said.

Selling local produce — and in the outdoors — mirrors the Y’s mission of building a healthy spirit, mind and body, Deweese said.

“I think it’s the community aspect we provide,” Deweese said of the market’s important role to the public, “and the health and wellness aspect of bringing fresh goods to the community.”

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