An Horry County man, cited for operating a flea market in an area zoned for produce, is trying to keep the business open.
Anthony Powers operates the Tigers 501 Market on U.S. Highway 501 north of Conway and sells produce along with other items such as glassware, tools and toys. He was cited because the plot of land is not zoned for retail.
Deputy Director of Horry County Planning and Zoning David Schwerd said there’s no way to rezone the property to allow the market to stay.
“We started in September,” said Powers, who added that he was ticketed several weeks after opening. “I’ve been fighting them since.”
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Online court records show he was cited three times on Nov. 13. He said one was for having signs too close to a right-of-way and another was for living in a camper behind his market. A third citation was for operating the market in an area not zoned for the use.
“It was being used [as] a flea market without obtaining any type of zoning compliance,” said Schwerd in an email. “There is nothing that prohibits rezoning of this parcel, however there are no districts that would allow the outdoor flea market.”
But Powers isn’t the first person to operate the market.
Powers said the the previous market operator ran the business as a consignment shop and was never cited.
Landowner Sheley Ward, who goes by Shelva, owns the building and leases the market to Powers. She said the previous operator wanted to sell produce at the stand but never did.
“They were not ticketed,” Ward said. “They had a motor home behind it. They were there for three or four years and the one who stayed in the motor home, he went off to Florida. He was never ticketed.”
Schwerd said the department never received any complaints about the previous market operator and was not aware of any previous violations on the site.
He said that the market could continue to run by applying for a building change of use to allow retail sales.
“That would be a permit that would be issued by the Building Department and a zoning compliance issued by the Planning Department,” he said.
Powers has since started a petition on change.org to garner support in his fight to stay open.
“We started a petition because we’ve got oodles of people that love having a flea market out here,” said Powers. The online petition had 89 signatures by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We always sold produce and hanging baskets, and no one ever bothered us,” said Ward. “He sells produce too, so I don’t know what’s going on. I think our county is going kind of wild.”
“What’s it hurting anybody? We’re out in the country. He’s not hurting anybody,” she said.
Powers’s case is scheduled to be heard in court Thursday.