Castle Street flea market battles zoning problems

Several businesses from Castle Street were recently forced to alter their bi-monthly flea market operation. (Source: WECT)
Several businesses from Castle Street were recently forced to alter their bi-monthly flea market operation. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Several businesses from Castle Street were recently forced to alter their bi-monthly flea market operation because of a zoning violation.

According to Michael Moore, owner of Michael Moore's Antiques, the City of Wilmington's zoning department found the market was in violation of city zoning ordinances. The market is located directly across from Moore's shop in the 500 block of Castle Street.

"We had good crowds. It brought lot of traffic to our street. It is a benefit to our neighborhood. It's also something that's been welcomed by the neighbors," Moore said.

Moore said city planners told him that the area wasn't zoned properly for the market function. Furthermore he explained that the planners were worried about a lack of sales tax being collected and the potential traffic issues surrounding the event.

Moore said planners told him the market can still operate, but only once every 45 days. He said this has been a detriment for the Castle Street businesses that took part in the market.

"45 days doesn't work for the consistency of any kind of sale to get in people's memories," argued Moore.

The "Castle Street Flea," as Moore calls it, usually operates on the first and third Saturday of every month. He said they had been operating for three years without any enforcement issues prior to the recent zoning dilemma.

Moore said that city code enforcement caught wind of the market when one vendor tried to obtain a permit in order to sell baked goods at the event.

The city official in charge of this zoning case wasn't available for interview Wednesday, but one Wilmington City Council member said she is interested in solving the problem.

"I don't know whether it's a permitting issue or a zoning issue, but I'm open to looking at the problem and figuring out a solution," said council member Laura Padgett.

Moore is hoping the city planners can adjust the permitting process to allow for the market's old schedule to return.

"My first reaction was wow we'll have this resolved and ready to go again in August, but we haven't. We haven't gotten an OK yet," Moore said.

City staffers said the flea market problems will be discussed at the next Wilmington City Council agenda briefing on Monday, August 18.

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