There was arguing, shouting and gavel banging during the Shrewsbury Township Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday.
However, the board still twice upheld its Feb. 6 decision to not renew the township's contract with the Shrewsbury Commons Shopping Center, which had hosted a farmers' market on Saturdays in the spring, summer and fall last year in its parking lot.
Supervisor Susan Fox, who voted Feb. 6 in favor the renewal, has said the vote "virtually shut down the whole farmers' market" for 2013.
The issue was brought up again during Wednesday's meeting, where at least 50 people gathered.
At the meeting, Fox twice entered a motion calling for the board to revote on the matter, and twice Fox and fellow supervisor Bill Cox voted in favor of a contract renewal, while president supervisor Jeff Rennoll and Supervisor Gene Montanarelli voted against it. Board member Cynthia DeLeone was absent. The tie vote meant the Feb. 6 decision stands.
Rennoll had to use his gavel to restore order when several attendees loudly questioned the board's vote or argued with him and Montanarelli.
After the farmers' market discussion, most of the attendees left the meeting. Once outside the building, township resident Gene Weber said he wasn't shouting at the board, but speaking loud so he could be heard.
"No matter what the people said, (Montanarelli and Rennoll) still voted against the market," said Weber, also a farmer at Sunrise Acres in Whitehall, Md. "They still didn't give a good answer for why they voted against it."
Weber, who was a market vendor last year, said he and other farmers need such markets to connect to the community and to increase their business.
During Wednesday's meeting, both Rennoll and Montanarelli said that they are not voting to stop the market, but don't think the township should sponsor a business or provide insurance coverage for it.
Montanarelli said he believes it exposes the township to liability. Volunteers and farmers should work together to run the market on their own, he said.
Shrewsbury Township has functioned as the market's sponsor since its beginning in 2011. Fox said she has volunteered as the market's primary organizer.
She said the township's sponsorship has meant a small annual budget of about $500 and insurance coverage - the crux of other supervisors' opposition to remaining the market's sponsor.
Running the market would cost a total of $2,000 out of the township's $1.8 million budget, Fox said. She said the community has a strong connection with the market, as 10 of its 19 vendors either live or have farms in the township. The market also draws farmers - as vendors - and customers from Maryland, Fox said.
After hearing dozens of attendees' comments in favor of having a farmers' market, Montanarelli said he would be willing run the market as a private citizen if there were volunteers willing to help him.
Steve Klesse, president of Swamp Fox Farm Inc. in Glen Rock, told Montanarelli that he would be on such a committee just to make sure Montanarelli keeps his word.
Rob Wood, a Glen Rock resident who runs Spoutwood Farm, volunteered to be on any committee dedicated to keeping the farmers' market running. Both he and Klesse said they first would rather see the township sponsor it.
"We need to help keep our farmlands going, teach people how to eat locally," Wood said.
Joanne Dorrette of Freeland, Md., said she gets all her fresh foods from the farmers' market and is disappointed with the board's decision.
"I'm embarrassed for Shrewsbury, that the people here didn't get the support of two (supervisors)" she said. "We love the farmers' market. There's a sense of community. It gives us a reason to stay around to talk to people."
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.