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Indoor Farmers Market Moving Within Briarcliff

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – The indoor farmers market that filled the Briarcliff Congregational Church's parish hall on Saturdays from January through May for the past two years is moving to another location in Briarcliff.

"The other location is not finalized yet, so we're not in the position to release (its name) yet," said Frankie Rowland the director of marketing and advertising for Community Markets, an Ossining-based organization that runs 19 farmers markets in Westchester, Rockland County and New York City, including the Saturday market in Ossining.

Joan Austin, a moderator of the Briarcliff Congregational Church at the corner of South State Road and Elm Road, said the indoor farmers' market operated without incident in 2009 and 2010, but problems began in 2011 when the church had problems keeping its parking lot cleared of snow.

"There were some issues on South State Road," Austin said.

Though the church had received permission from the Briarcliff Buildings Department in 2008 to house a farmers' market, it received a notice in January of this year saying that it was in violation of a special use permit.

Members of the church met with village officials who told them that the farmers market was a commercial use in an area that is zoned for residential. "They agreed they'd look in to amending the zoning code," Austin said.

In the mean time, church parishioners "made strenuous efforts" to rectify the traffic situation, Austin said. "We urged people to park off site, we had volunteer monitors in the parking lot every Saturday, and we didn't schedule any church events for Saturday morning," Austin said.

In March, the church received a notice for a hearing at the village justice court, but the hearing was postponed several times. "Finally, one of the trustees admitted to us in late August, September that this simply wasn't a high priority for the village," Austin said. "At the point, the woman who ran the market said 'I'm sorry, we have to look for other places.'"

Briarcliff village Manager Phil Zegarelli said the problem with the farmers market was that it was a for-profit commercial business within a church in a residential zone.

"Was the farmers market nice? Yes it was. Did people go to it? Yes, many people did including myself," Zegarelli said. "But when you match it to what's permitted or not with the law, it wasn't covered. It was never brought in with the proper approvals or permits even if the village could give it."

Austin said church parishioners are sorry to see the market go.

"I thought it was a wonderful thing for the community. We became friendly with a lot of the vendors, and we like the healthy, local grown food," Austin said. "We would have loved to continue having it, but the village closed it down."

The 2012 indoor farmers market will begin on Jan. 7 in its new location, Rowland said.

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