Once again, Jay’s Farm Stand is up to its ears in alligators in the proverbial swamp of politics and incompetent city officials called Shelton.
Never mind that these ubiquitous items are found in numerous yards providing shelter for cars, that Gateway Tool Rental only a few blocks down the street has them on its premises, or that ‘membrane structure’ is an oxymoron tantamount to ‘jumbo shrimp’, ‘military intelligence’, or competence in the administration of Shelton City government. A search for corruption in government (shockingly easy to find) becomes indistinguishable from incompetence in this instance.
Mayor Gary Cronce (a local business owner) successfully ran on a platform of easing unreasonable restrictions on local retail establishments which are decimating the City’s business community. Cronce is alleged to have expressed sympathy for Jay’s, but has yet to bring his carnivorous permit minions to heel.
An interview with the Log Cabin Tavern, Bar & Grill owner reveals a similar ongoing pattern. Lori expresses dissatisfaction with how her own building permit issues were handled as revealed during the on premises accompanying video interview of 6-13-12.
City of Shelton: the shame of Mason County
Jay’s Farm Stand is (was?) a small business in a small town (Shelton) selling fresh produce instead of the sugar laden highly processed gunk sold in the big box grocery chains. It’s a town that looks like it never had a bath (the streets are filthy) full of vacant store fronts and industrial blight from its local biomassacre biopirates aka Simpson Timber (aka ‘Green Diamond’, etc. etc.). But rather than clean up the rubbish, broken glass, filth, dilapidated buildings, and broken streets, town officials prefer harassing productive business owners trying to make a go of it during hard times in this small rural community.
A Shelton business man who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation alleged Mr. Mayo (a Thurston resident) once worked as a building inspector for Mason County before applying to the City of Shelton. The reasons for his leaving are unknown at this time. Those with knowledge of the details are encouraged to contribute the information. The businessman went on to express his own grievances including ill conceived baseless excessive building code demands and tampering with ORCAA enforcement (Mayo filed a complaint about ‘odor’ from a city food processing retail establishment BEFORE the disputed equipment had even been installed!). Reportedly, a number of area contractors will not allow Mr. Mayo to set foot on their job sites.
A Flyer containing the following text was at Jay’s:
City of Shelton building inspector Kelly Mayo is going to close our business next Friday, June 22  because of our tents out front. Please let the City of Shelton Commissioners know that we are a part of the community and bring a needed business to Shelton. Jay’s Farm Stand thanks you for your support.
City of Shelton Commissioners are Dawn Pannell, Mike Wilson, and (of course) Gary Cronce, the Mayor. Phone: (360)426-4491
RE-UPDATE: (6-17-12, Sunday Morning)
It was mostly a one-sided conversation though Mayor Cronce is to be complimented for responding so promptly to the e-mail he received regarding the above cited issues. The normal 6:00pm Monday (tomorrow) meeting at City Hall will have 3 minute periods for comment trailed to after other city business has been considered. The Mayor expressed concern about hoards of screaming irate citizens appearing, but anticipated allowing each to address the Commissioners so long as ‘name calling’ and other boorish behavior didn’t disrupt the proceedings.
Mayor Cronce was quick to characterize Lee Dixon (of Jay’s Farm Stand in Shelton) as a man who didn’t follow through on his word to the City, citing a number of missed dates and empty assurances. He also claimed the City code required strict adherence. He averred the Fire Marshal had claimed the fire code allowed only 180 days grace for the tents sheltering Jay’s produce from the elements. But Mayor Cronce also admitted the tents were no safety hazard/threat and that identical tents existed on many residential properties, arguing the same forbearance didn’t apply to commercial properties. He simply insisted neither he nor the other Commissioners had any authority to vary from the code. Mr. Cronce appeared indifferent to the idea that the IBC is a performance code (that which can be demonstrated to achieve its purpose is permitted) and the umbrella-tents protecting the perishables endangered no one, nor do they meet a minimum threshold that would.
Too much time was spent discussing Mr. Dixon’s personality rather than whether the City was overstepping its authority by banning tents under such circumstances. The Mayor was advised to read the applicable code (building or fire) sections himself as opposed to accepting anyone’s opinion (including the fire marshal’s) regarding the same.
Mayor Cronce, even the law has room for common sense. Selling fruit is a low profit margin business. The product is highly perishable. Costs must be minimized to remain competitive. The community benefits from the selection and sale. All reasonable observers can readily see the tents present no hazard as deployed, and they’re hardly visually objectionable considering the state of much of downtown Shelton. Moreover, tents (membranes?) are not ‘structures’ as defined by the building code. Indeed, they’re hardly tents, more like multi-poled umbrellas in their current configuration during business hours. Umbrellas appear to remain unfettered.
It’s reasonable to require a very large tent (circus big top) to meet some fire code and egress standards given the number of people under something of that size. But a 10′ x 20′ tent isn’t going to trap or injure anybody. The building code isn’t a religion/bible, it’s a code intended to protect the public from unsafe STRUCTURES, not umbrellas, tents, awnings, tarps, or hammocks. A simple glance at how other municipalities coordinate their code with the business community in such instances should provide ample guidance for any Mayor inclined to provide leadership and make good on campaign rhetoric. –editor–