Maryland Highway Administration Shutting Down Popular Produce Stand

Country Thyme fans fight for produce stand to stay along River Road

BETHESDA, Md. -- By Sunday, a popular Montgomery County produce stand will be gone, a prospect that has many area residents feeling rotten, News4's Jane Watrel reported.

Country Thyme Farm Market has been in business for 10 years, but it's located on land along River Road that's owned by the Maryland State Highway Administration, and officials are calling the market a roadside safety hazard.

"The state highway administration, I think, is being maybe a little obtuse, and over-protective of land that no one was using," said former state legislator Robin Ficker, whose son's River Road produce stand also was shut down. "They're even objecting to my son planting flowers there."

Ficker protested that his son's stand was the only one being shut down, which is when the MSHA told Country Thyme it has to go, too, even though it has the proper county permits.

The stand is on a state right-of-way intended for roadside emergencies, not roadside commerce, an MSHA spokesperson said.

Country Thyme owner Jonathan Saad hired a lawyer to fight the closure in court.

"We've never had a single traffic incident while we've been on River Road," Saad said. "And it's the middle of the season right now. It's tough to pick up everything and move."

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Country Thyme's one of the busiest produce stands in the area, and regular patrons are bombarding local lawmakers with phone calls demanding they do something to stop the closure.

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