Local News

Raleigh Leaders Give Flea Market a Deadline

Posted April 10, 2007 8:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2007 9:09 p.m. EDT

— City leaders decided Tuesday to give a troubled flea market 45 days to fix landscaping issues and to create a better relationship with a nearby neighborhood.

A committee will evaluate Watson Flea Market's progress on May 22.

As many as 15,000 people can be found at the flea market on Rock Quarry Road most weekends. Since January 2006, police have been called to the area more than 388 times, mostly for traffic issues.

In January, state investigators raided Watson's and seized $1 million worth of counterfeit goods. Last month, police arrested a man for shooting a vendor who had been found dead in his booth.

"We just think it's not the type of activity to expect if you're in the city of Raleigh," council member James West said during Tuesday's meeting.

"I know there's been some comments in the media about potentially shutting it down," said attorney Charles Marshall, who represented the flea market. "From a legal standpoint, I think it's very tricky. But more importantly, from a public policy standpoint, it might solve a trash problem and it might solve a parking problem, but it's also going to put at least 350 people out of work."

Marshall went on to say the market has hired additional officers to address parking issues and is working to clean up the property. He also said it is limiting DVD sales, which can be affiliated with counterfeiting.

"There's been more than a good-faith effort to make this work," Marshall said. "And I think the whole community of Raleigh, not just southeast Raleigh … I think the whole Raleigh area has a vested interest here in seeing all types of commerce and all types of shopping centers work."