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Rocky Mount Produce Stand Shut Down

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ROCKY MOUNT — What has become a roadside tradition in Rocky Mount is out of business. Friday, Elma Farmer closed his produce stand on Highway 301. The city says he is too close to traffic, Farmer has a different take on it.

Just a few feet off highway 301, Farmer sells produce, or at least he did. Rocky Mount inspectors say he is too close to the road, and has to move.

"I've got all my license, got everything I'm supposed to have. If I'm doing something wrong, they've got to prove it to me. They haven't told me anything I'm doing," Farmer said.

The city says Farmer is in the state right-of-way, and that he and his customers could get run over or cause a wreck.

They let him open there six years ago anyway, when Farmer sold produce a couple of days a week. But since then, his business has branched out and gotten bigger.

"It's evolved from a little part-time business to almost a full-time business, and that's increased the amount of traffic flow we see on the site, and we just have a real safety concern there. It's not to put him out of business, but to protect him and his customers there," Richard Strickland of Rocky Mount Inspections said.

Farmer's customers say they really like being able to pull off of Highway 301 so they can hop out, get the goods and go, but the city says that is exactly what the problem is. So many people park right here next to the highway, the city says it is an accident waiting to happen.

"He's in a good location here and I can't understand why Rocky Mount is making him move because he don't hurt nobody," customer Bill Lollis said.

But the city says the potential to get hurt is too great.

Farmer is planning a comeback. He hopes to set up in new location along the same highway by mid- November.


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