Beaufort Liquidation's outdoor Lowcountry Flea Market remains open, despite a zoning dispute, according to Beaufort County officials.
How much longer it will be is not clear.
The flea market near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is inside a "compatible-use" zone that restricts what businesses can do because of noise concerns. The company, which also operates its liquidation business inside a building on the same property, asked for a zoning amendment that would have allowed its outdoor flea market to continue. But a tie vote Jan. 27 by County Council left the issue undecided.
Because of the tie, the proposal can still be amended, county attorney Josh Gruber said. If negotiations yield a new compromise, council could take another vote, he added.
Now, Beaufort Liquidation owner Jeff Lowe and his attorney, David Tedder, are trying to negotiate a solution with the county, according to council Chairman Paul Sommerville.
Sommerville says he is working with the county, Tedder and air station officials to find a compromise that would allow the market to operate. Sommerville and Lowe declined to reveal details because the negotiations are ongoing.
"I'm still looking for a deal here," Sommerville said. "I'm just looking for something so that we don't have to have another one of these 5-to-5 ties."
The business relocated from Robert Smalls Parkway in May to the former 84 Lumber building at 5 Parker Drive, just across Trask Parkway from air station property. Zoning restricts what the business can do inside the building and prohibits operations outside.
However, since opening last summer, the outdoor flea market has been allowed to operate each Saturday and Sunday with the permission of the county's Planning Commission -- with the understanding that a zoning amendment would be necessary for the flea market to continue permanently, Sommerville said.
County planners and council members have discussed what the zoning amendment should allow.
At one time, it would have allowed the flea market to operate every day of the year, Sommerville said.
Another version limited operations to Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- a day to set up, a day to sell and a day to break down, Tedder has said.
Tedder said new language could include rules that allow expanded inside and outside operations that are limited to Saturdays. It could also require a review of any changes if the air station receives too many noise complaints from marketgoers within a certain period of time, he said.
Last week, a Beaufort Liquidation post on Facebook yielded nearly 200 comments and 75 shares, including dozens of responses supporting the market.
An online petition started by a Beaufort resident at Change.org had 544 market supporters as of Friday night.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.