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Panel may extend farmers market permit

The Rogue Valley Farmers Market's outdoors performance last summer in downtown Medford is up for review at tonight's planning commission meeting.

The commission will hold a public hearing to consider extending the market's conditional use permit to operate Thursdays on Main Street between Bartlett and Front streets.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

Last year, commissioners gave the market permission to operate downtown, on the condition that the activity be reviewed after a year.

Debra Osborne, market manager, said the downtown operation was a success. She cited an award the Heart of Medford Association gave the market last week honoring its downtown efforts.

As proposed, the market would operate the same hours it did last year, from 5 to 8 p.m. The road would be closed at 4 p.m. to let vendors set up. The market would run from April 2 to Nov. 19.

Osborne said her group will make every effort to avoid closing Main Street from Central Avenue to Front Street unless the number of vendors requires the additional block.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency is recommending closing Main Street between Riverside and Central for the market, instead of Main between Front and Central. That would ease traffic flow, said agency staffer Mike Webber.

We thought it (the market) was a positive influence downtown, Webber said. We'll do whatever we can to support it, but we also have to address some issues with (traffic) circulation.

City planners received two letters from downtown merchants opposed to the market's operation.

Laurie Wenzel, owner of the On The Wall frame shop, said the weekly operation hurt her business. Customers' complaints ranged from traffic congestion to the market's lack of produce, she said.