BOARD MEMBERS: Chairperson Neil Faiman; members Andy Hoar, Joe Poisson, Carol Roberts and Jim Tuttle.
|Agenda||Educational Community Farm - Variance|
Chairman Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.
The Board reviewed the minutes of November 10, 2009.
A MOTION was made by Ms. Roberts and SECONDED by Mr. Hoar to approve the minutes of November 10, 2009 as written.
Voting: 4 ayes; motion carried with Mr. Tuttle abstaining.
Chairman Faiman read the public notice as follows:
The Educational Community Farm (applicant) and Steven Moheban / Senator Development (owner) have applied for a variance to section 5.1(d) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the conversion of a portion of a barn on Lot F-98-1, 195 Isaac Frye Highway ("Four Corners Farm") to a bunkhouse for seasonal workers and a dairy herdsman.
Lincoln Geiger appeared before the Board, for the applicant, and explained that in order to conduct his farming business he needs people in the summer to work and an extra herdsman. He explained that currently they live in a different section of the building that is not inviting and is very close to the customer traffic so they do not have any privacy. He stated that he would like to put in bedrooms and a living room/kitchen situation. He noted that it is difficult to find local people to work so people come from all over the place, including other countries, wanting to learn about farming so they charge very little and he needs a place to house them. He further noted that it used to be that farmers would have apple pickers and would have bunk houses for them.
In response to a question from Mr. Faiman, Mr. Geiger stated that he would be housing up to four employees, including the dairy man.
In response to a question from Mr. Hoar, Mr. Geiger explained that he currently houses workers in temporary housing but it is part of the current building where the milk barn once was. He noted that it is not a suitable location because it is damp and dark.
Mr. Geiger explained that Steven Moheban gave them the option to build a duplex for farmers, but this building would not be for the farmers, or they could rent the apartments on site for $1,000 a month, which is too expensive for his purposes.
In response to a question from Mr. Poisson, Mr. Geiger stated that there is running water coming to proposed location but it would have to be piped in past the foundation and a septic would have to be added, but the test pit as already been dug.
In response to a question from Mr. Poisson, Mr. Geiger stated that previously there were heifers on the bottom floor of the current building.
In response to a question from Mr. Tuttle, Mr. Geiger stated that the daycare that had been previously approved is no longer there but there are families in both the up and downstairs apartments.
In response to a question from Mr. Faiman, Mr. Geiger stated that he is looking to build approximately 1,000 SF of living space.
Mr. Geiger explained that the whole property is encumbered with easements so subdividing the property to build on the new lot is not an option and noted that the current arrangement provides a great opportunity for young people to come and learn.
In response to a question from Mr. Tuttle, Mr. Geiger explained that the workers could park across the street. He noted that the maximum number of people parking at one given time would be five people; lots of the times there will be just two people and in the winter probably nobody extra will be parking.
In response to a question from Mr. Tuttle, Mr. Faiman explained that only one dwelling is allowed per property and while the Zoning Ordinance allows for agricultural uses it does not say anything about the ramifications of agriculture.
Mr. Tuttle noted that the practice of the housing temporary workers used to happen all the time.
In response to a question from Ms. Roberts, Mr. Faiman explained that the application is for permanent housing for temporary people.
In response to a question from Mr. Faiman, Mr. Geiger stated that he would be willing to give up the apartment in the milk barn in order to gain this new apartment.
Ms. Roberts stated that there is a history on this site of traffic, parking, and people living there in a rotational way.
Mr. Faiman explained that the ordinance permits general farming uses and noted that the application is to allow three dwelling units on 70 acres of land and replacing an existing dwelling unit with another in the same area so it seems like it does not go against the spirit of the ordinance.
Mr. Geiger noted that the people who join the farm pay a portion of the operating costs and noted that they started with 40 families and now have a 70 family waiting list and that the chances of renting out the apartments because they are not faming there anymore is slim.
A MOTION was made by Mr. Tuttle and SECONDED by Mr. Hoar to grant the variance with the limitations and conditions represented by the applicant.
Voting: 5 ayes; motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Tuttle submitted a letter to the Board and explained that he is asking the Board of Selectmen not to reappoint him in March but noted that he may be willing to serve as an alternate.
A MOTION was made by Ms. Roberts and SECONDED by Mr. Hoar to adjourn the meeting.
Voting: 5 ayes; motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Faiman declared the meeting adjourned.
Submitted by Heather Loewy Nichols