Gold Coast Mall Site Approved For OC Farmer’s Market

OCEAN CITY — The long-standing farmer’s market in Ocean City moved closer to having a permanent home this week after resort officials agreed to approve a conditional use for the venue.

For about three decades, the Ocean City Farmer’s Market resided on a parking lot on the corner of 142nd Street across from the old Phillips Seafood House. When the property was sold in 2021, the farmer’s market sought a new location and was granted a temporary permit at the north end of the Gold Coast Mall parking lot.

The mall parking lot was a temporary location made possible by relaxed rules for outdoor venues related to the COVID pandemic. However, in order for the farmer’s market to be able to continue to operate in the north section of the mall parking lot, a conditional use had to be approved by resort planners and ultimately the Mayor and Council.

On Monday, the Mayor and Council had before them a request to approve the conditional use for the farmer’s market in what is essentially an R-1 residential district. The council ultimately approved the conditional use application, allowing the farmer’s market to continue to operate at the north end of the Gold Coast Mall shopping center.

The approval came with four conditions applied by the Planning Commission after their public hearing last month. Those conditions include meeting the definition of a farmer’s market adopted by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, approval from the Worcester County Health Department, the temporary tent structures are only permitted during hours of operation for the farmer’s market and a minimum lot area of one acre is required.

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The planning commission forwarded a favorable recommendation for the conditional use application to the full Mayor and Council after holding a public hearing in June. During that public hearing at the planning commission level, commission members agreed the farmer’s market supported small local businesses that offer unique goods and services, supported the Green Business Registry and the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) concepts laid out in the town’s comprehensive plan.

The venue allows local farmers to offer and sell their products to local residents and visitors throughout the summer offering fresh, local and healthy food alternatives. During the public hearing at the planning commission level last month, applicant and farmer’s market manager Phyllis Wimbrow explained the operation at the mall parking lot.  During July and August, the farmer’s market is open four days a week including Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The vendor come in at 8 a.m., set up their temporary canopies and operate until 1 p.m. with the breakdown completed by 1:30 p.m.