Present: Paula Johnson (Chairman), Jonathan Boardman, Margaret Chapple, Christine Chinni, Mark Lockwood, Eric Lukingbeal, Eric Myers, James Sansone and Brennan Sheahan. Also present was Abby Kenyon, Director of Community Development.
Seating of alternates: Christine Chinni and Brennan Sheahan were seated for approval of the minutes and consideration of File Z-7-19. Margaret Chapple and Mark Lockwood were seated for the remainder of the meeting.
Items not on the agenda. Nothing discussed.
On a motion by Eric Myers seconded by Jonathan Boardman, the commission voted (7-0-0) to approve the minutes of July 9 with a modification. The following sentence, “Jonathan Boardman recused himself” belongs with File Z-8-19, not File Z-7-19.
Consideration of an application seeking a Special Permit under Zoning Regulations Sections 22.214.171.124 and 8.21.4, personal service in the Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone, massage center, for property located at 345 Salmon Brook Street.
(Public Hearing closed on July 9)
James Sansone stated he would like information regarding traffic flow, possible issues with a town- owned right of way in the area, and comments from other town staff. It was noted the public hearing has been closed; any comments should have been received and discussed during the hearing.
Abby Kenyon provided clarification on technical items, noting body massages will most likely require permitting through the Department of Public Health and the building official will review all renovations to ensure compliance with the building code, including doors and proper openings.
The commission noted there would be less traffic than before with this proposed use; the possible right of way and multiple driveways have not been an issue in the past; and this use is compatible with the area and the Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone regulations.
On a motion by Myers seconded by Boardman, the commission voted to approve a Special Permit under Zoning Regulations Sections 126.96.36.199 and 8.21.4, personal service in the Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone, massage center, for property located at 345 Salmon Brook Street, with the condition that the applicant obtain licensing/permits as may be required from the State, (5-2-0). Lukingbeal and Sansone opposed.
Application seeking to modify a Special Permit for an existing farm store under Zoning Regulations Section 8.15.17 to allow special events for property located at 29 Bushy Hill Road. File Z-10-19.
Paula Johnson stated the commission would like to acknowledge the public comments made by Michael Fitzgerald at the July 9, 2019, public hearing and to make them part of the record for this application, including the July 9, 2019, meeting minutes and video.
Representing the applicant Becky Clark, Attorney Carl Landolina of Fahey and Landolina Attorneys, LLC, addressed the commission. Landolina stated the sale and manufacture of hard cider was already approved by the commission and that tonight’s discussion was about the tent location and the ability to hold special events. Landolina noted the Department of Agriculture has approved the tent’s location outside the building envelope as it is not considered a structure based on their definition. The Department is now reviewing the proposal to host special events in the tent. He noted the Planning and Zoning Commission also has the authority to review the tent and proposed special events under this Special Permit application. He went on to explain the Zoning Regulations support agriculture, as noted in Section 8.15.17, and agritourism is an important part of supporting farming operations and the preservation of farmland.
Bill Russell, 12 Brookside Drive, a retired landscape designer, described why the tent location was selected: 1) the ground is level with slight grade for drainage; 2) stable soil type to allow drainage; 3) the area is not under cultivation; 4) it is away from the store and equipment storage; 5) it does not block the view of the orchard from the farm store; 6) it is a beautiful spot near the pond.
Landolina noted this application complies with Section 8.2. He stated the tent is in a suitable location and is of an appropriate size and nature for the lot as it takes up one-twentieth of an acre, the distance to the property line is greater than any required setback, and the applicant will plant fast growing White Pines to further screen the tent from view. For neighborhood compatibility, the tent is approximately 1,200 feet to the nearest house. He also noted the applicant is willing to purchase and install tent sides for two or three sides to address any noise and visual concerns.
In response to questions about parking, Clark noted during harvesting time, customers are gone by 5 p.m.; any special event would commence after this time so there would be room in the parking lot. All visitors would be brought by wagons to the tent. She also noted Port-o-lets would be used; special events would be limited to 150 people, six times per year with amplified music, which would cease by 9 p.m.; there would not be a dumpster near the tent; the landscape buffer near the pond would minimize drift from crop spraying and would also dampen any noise; and string lights on the inside edge of the tent and smaller table lights would be used; there would be no other lighting. In response to a question about compatibility with other uses in the area, it was noted the property is an active farm and measures could be taken to mitigate any concerns. Furthermore, the farm existed well before the surrounding homes were built. Regarding Section 8.15.17 Farm Store, Landolina noted this is a brick-and-mortar operation and the production of hard cider will be contained within the existing building. Products for sale comply with the farm store regulation.
The following people spoke during the public hearing:
Tim Squier, 90 Silver Street; Chris Strapp, 10 Indian Hill Drive; Michael Wiggins, 14 Strawberry Fields; Thomas Hall, 15 Strawberry Fields; Maggie Percival, 6 Strawberry Fields; Lisa Bennett, 27 Mechanicsville Road; Richard Caley, 17 Cedar Drive; Ann Carey, 11 Strawberry Fields; David Russell, 5 Strawberry Fields; Louise Hoar, 7 Strawberry Fields; Dan Carey, 11 Strawberry Fields; Lorraine Morelli, 29 Bushy Hill Road; Michael Fitzgerald, 25 Strawberry Fields; Cheryl Yorio, 10 Strawberry Fields; Michael Ungerleider, 12 Strawberry Fields.
Those with concerns noted the following: neighborhood compatibility issues; noise; traffic; parking; alcohol use; lack of definition for special events; tent location; number of proposed events; liability issues surrounding the pond; environmental impacts; property values; and commercial use of the property. It was also suggested the tent be located within the building envelope and traffic should exit the property to Kelly Lane.
Those in support noted the following: the church service and farm-to-table dinner enhances community and does not impact the neighborhood; the Clark family is compassionate and respectful; there is a need to support farming operations; at one time the area was homes surrounded by farms; and other neighborhood activities generate more noise than the farm.
The commission discussed the definition of special events and how this differs from smaller gatherings or use of the tent during regular business hours; the number of events that are proposed and what each event will entail; distance requirements from the point of alcohol sales to where they are consumed on site; amplified music; and the parking layout.
Lukingbeal visited the site and submitted a photo of the property. It was suggested other commissioners may also want to visit the site. Kenyon noted if commissioners choose to visit the site, as this will not be a scheduled meeting, they are to go on their own and may not discuss the application with the applicant or any residents.
In response to a question about the public hearing, Kenyon stated under state statute the applicant must agree to an extension if the hearing is to be continued to the next regularly scheduled meeting on September 10. Landolina consented to an extension.
Lockwood asked the applicant to submit any information they receive from the Department of Agriculture prior to the next meeting.
Receive application and set public hearing
Kenyon reported Tim’s Automotive of 352 Salmon Brook Street has submitted an application to renew its Special Permit. The application has been scheduled for public hearing on September 10.
Staff Reports and Correspondence
Approval of an application seeking a Site Plan modification under Zoning Regulations Section 4.2.13, emergency generator, for property located at 9 Bank Street.
Kenyon reported that Geissler’s submitted a site plan mediation to install an emergency generator behind its building. The location meets the required set-backs and the generator specifications have been reviewed for noise output. It was noted testing will be done during the day.
Commissioner Reports and Correspondence
The Commission will hold a special meeting on Sept. 16 to review the proposed drive-through regulation changes.
Patricia Tappenden, Recording Secretary