Noise factor an issue for Lost Acres Vinyard neighbors

Print More
At the public session of the April 3 Planning and Zoning meeting, Attorney Mark Branse, speaking for Carol Day of 96 Lost Acres Road, read a letter written by her in which she stated her opposition to the activities going on at the Lost Acres Vineyard, and her disappointment that the commission did not adequately address the special permit issue at its last meeting when vineyard owner Michelle Niedermeyer presented an account of the products and activities of her business.

The issue of what is allowed at the vineyard and the noise during certain activities was presented to the commission last fall by Mrs. Day’s husband, the late John Day. At that time, the commission, asked for a review of the issue, and that was what Niedermeyer presented at the March meeting. She also asked the commission to change the hours of the farm store to 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday instead of noon – 6 p.m. from April through December.

Day’s letter states she supported the vineyard as limited by the initial farm store special permit. She feels that the current activities are not compliant with the special permit approval as now written. She cites the concert schedule for 2014 that includes 22 concerts scheduled to begin after 6 p.m. and asked if they will be indoors or outdoors, if there will be live music, if charging a fee makes it a commercial endeavor. She states that if commercial concerts were allowed as part of a “farm store” approval, it would be legally impossible to regulate concerts of any type or size as an accessory use for every farm. She asks for a complete investigation into the events being held at the Lost Acres Vineyard and for confining the activities to those authorized by the current special permit: the sale of wine and other farm products during the hours of noon and 6 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday plus holidays. 

Commission Chairwoman Paula Johnson said this was a future agenda item.

Solar Panels

The commission debated the pros and cons of erecting ground-mounted solar panels erected on the town’s East Street farm (the Evonsion property). The Board of Selectmen asked the commission for its comments. The solar panels would cover a maximum area of 10 acres of the farm’s total 120 acres. A proposal from Solar City estimated that over a 20-year period, the panels would save the town $1.3 million from the BOE budget and $425,000 from the town budget. The power generated would provide electricity for the town hall complex and most of the schools. A bid application for the plan must be made in a short window of four weeks in order to take advantage of the Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) program offered by the state this year.

Commission member Mark Lockwood said Connecticut has a low electric grid and solar panels would be best placed on the roofs of the buildings. Eric Luckingbeal felt that there was little information provided, and he was leery of the impact on the town. Jim Sansone also expressed caution on the ramifications of the plan and wondered how many panels would be necessary. Paula Johnson wondered about the environmental impact and the damage to the farms current use. The consensus seemed to be that the lack of details made the board very uncomfortable with the proposal.

Special Permits

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a Special Permit for the construction of a barn at Clemons Springs and approved the application for the construction of an industrial building and storage yard for property at 566 Salmon Brook Street.

Brian Denno, LS speaking for Michelle and Corky Kalis, presented the application for a detached one-and one-half-story barn containing 1,400 square feet (36×40 including a lean to). The 4.46-acre property is located in a R2A zone on a private road in a FRD subdivision. The structure will be located 200 feet back from Clemons Spring Road and over 120 feet from the nearest property line. The barn’s exterior siding will be wood with multiple windows, a pitched roof covered with asphalt architectural shingles and a loft area. The barn will house three cars and various landscaping equipment strictly for residential use, as well as a horse in the future. The wetlands commission has approved the plan. A silt fence will be erected during construction and there will be limited grading. Construction is anticipated to begin this spring.

Denno also presented the site plan application for an industrial building and storage yard for JRC Construction. The 2.2-acre property is within the I Zone. The plan is for a 2,688-square foot building with a lean-to containing an additional 1,408 square feet. The site, which cannot be seen from Salmon Brook Street, has an entrance from the existing access drive to Arrow Concrete. The plan is to re-grade the site to blend with neighboring properties and seed it with mixed grasses. A 25-foot buffer area will be created between the R30 zone and the site with no activity within this buffer. The building will sit 30 feet below the grade of neighboring residential properties, which will limit any noise. A landscape berm will be created along Salmon Brook Street.

In answer to questions from the commission, the applicant stated that the office for the business will be in his home, therefore he will not need water, sewers or lighting in the yard. He does not plan to erect a sign at this time. The project will begin late summer or early fall.

Applications have been made for a special permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages for the Jake’s Wayback Burgers Restaurant on Hartford Avenue; the public hearing will be April 22. An application for a special permit for an accessory apartment at 37 Wolcott Drive will also be heard on April 22.

An application for a zone change from R50 to R30 for property at 68 Quarry Road to create a house lot will be heard at public hearing on May 13.