Fort Myers Beach church goes to court over farmers market

Published: Updated:
Courtesy of Beach Baptist Farmers Market Facebook page

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The Beach Baptist Church Farmers Market has sparked some controversy over its legality and is going against the town council.

The Beach Baptist Church started the farmers market in order to raise money for a village they adopted in Guatemala. The market is open every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with 40 vendors with several produce stands, food stands and local artists.

However, the church may be violating a new ordinance by hosting a farmers market.

The town council said earlier this year the church needed a proper permit but others argued a nonprofit doesn’t need a permit. The church believed everything had been settled in August until they were given another violation from code enforcement, raising doubts about the future of the market.

Florence, a woman who lives near the church, doesn’t want to see the market leave.

“People around town have asked me about it,” Florence said. “It’s well-attended and it’s not hurting anybody. In fact, it’s helping to send money to missionaries so I don’t see why it’s become an issue again.”

But despite the church’s good intentions, residents like Ollie Curran, who’s lived in the area for 42 years, don’t want the market on their street.

“I’m not very territorial but it does create a lot of traffic on our street,” Curran said. “It’s very busy and a lot of people on the street don’t like it.”

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at the Fort Myers Beach City Hall at 9 a.m., the same time as the market.

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