By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:29 PM
The Maryland State Highway Administration has agreed to allow a popular Bethesda fruit stand to operate on the side of a state-owned road until Aug. 9, postponing a relocation order that was scheduled to take effect Wednesday, according to a lawyer representing the business.
The attorney for Country Thyme Farm Market, Eric H. Singer, filed a request Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order against the state. Singer said the court didn't rule on the dispute Wednesday in light of SHA's agreement to an extension.
A judge is scheduled to review the matter next month.
The stand's owner, Jonathan Sadd, said he will stay in his current spot off River Road as long as he can but will use the extension to explore alternative locations.
The agency has deemed the 10-year-old farm market a traffic hazard and told Sadd not to reopen in its current location after the end of business Tuesday. Sadd opened up shop anyway Wednesday. "We're open, just doing our normal thing," Sadd said in a morning phone interview.
SHA spokesman David Buck said his agency doesn't plan to call police immediately, because Sadd has informed them that he is trying to move to a nearby church. Sadd said church leaders reached out to Country Thyme with an offer to use their parking lot.
"We have been told by Mr. Sadd that he is in the process of actively looking for, and may have even found, a location on a church property, so certainly we are willing to work with him with in a reasonable timeframe here if he is moving forward with that," Buck said. "We're not anti-fruit stand, we're not anti-Country Thyme, we're pro-safety."
Sadd said that the church location is not finalized but that he anticipates that he'll eventually have to relocate.