Owner, city at odds over future of fruit stand

Owner said she can’t meet standards city is requiring.

A fruit stand that has operated on Patterson Road for more than 50 years could be out of business next year if the owner fails to make property upgrades the city is requiring.

The stand, which originally belonged to owner Robin Cornwell’s grandparents, has stood at 4020 Patterson Rd. for 55 years. Cornwell has owned the stand for 25 years.

Cornwell said the city told her she had to tear down the stand and operate out of a wagon or a new building because her current structure is not up to code.

“I can’t sell from a wagon. I sell too much for that,” Cornwell said Friday. “And, I love how it looks like a fruit stand. It’s not a store.”

Jeff McGrath, planning director for the City of Beavercreek, said the city has received complaints over the years about the stand. The complaints usually come in during the stand’s off season and are often about the trailer standing at the back of the lot, he said. The city’s code enforcement officer requested the owner remove the trailer and make other minor changes to the property, McGrath said.

“We like having them here,” McGrath said. “We informed them of what they needed to do at the end of the season to vacate the lot.”

In order to remain operational, Cornwell will have to replace rotted boards and give the stand “TLC,” said McGrath.

Cornwell said she offered to replace boards and continue repairing the roof like she does when necessary, but the city told her this wasn’t good enough to stay.

McGrath said the complaints and this situation come from the fruit stand being there year round, whereas most farmers’ markets set up temporary structures, like tents or sheds, when they are in season.

“Most people who do farmers’ markets use a temporary structure,” said McGrath. “This is a unique situation.”

Nick Thaxton, Cornwell’s brother-in-law, has worked with the family to operate the stand for the last 30 years. He said Cornwell and her family will be in front of the city on Aug. 22 to discuss the the stand’s future.

A petition is circulating in support of Cornwell.

“There are hundreds of electronic signatures and we have people here signing on paper and taking papers with them to get more support,” said Thaxton.

The petition was started by a 13-year-old girl, Cornwell said.

“I was reading the comments and I started crying,” said Cornwell. “People are saying things like ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ and ‘It’s a part of our community.’”

Cornwell heard about the petition from a customer who had seen posts about it on Facebook.

Paper copies of the petition are being passed around by other customers like Harold Lewis of Beavercreek.

“This is the best place to get produce,” said Lewis. “This is just another example of small town politics.”

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