Friday, July 16, 2004
Selectmen approve Ferns new porch
Larry Bearfield, owner of Ferns Country Store, received his long-awaited site plan approval from the Board of Selectmen at their July 13 meeting. His plan to add a farmer's porch, handicapped access ramp and new signage had already received Planning Board approval, as well as an okay from the police and fire chiefs regarding safety concerns. Still remaining in the approval process is a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals and review by the Historical Commission.
The Board agreed that the site plan and associated documentation met the requirements in Section 7.6 of the Zoning Bylaw mainly because the farmer's porch is an alteration of the existing Ferns County Store, the principal use of which is non-residential. Bearfield submitted convincing evidence that there will be no significant impact with respect to traffic and that the proposed number of parking spaces is adequate.
The Selectmen did impose conditions on the site plan, such as approval of all lighting fixtures and signage by the Historical Commission and placement of a planter between the parking area and the bike rack for enhanced safety and to discourage vehicles from parking too close to the intersection. Otherwise the public hearing closed on a positive note with the Selectmen voting 3-0-1 to approve the plan, with one member absent and Doug Stevenson abstaining because he was not present throughout all of the discussions.
Chair Tim Hult expressed dismay at the $1,000 filing fee being levied on Bearfield and was supported by the other Selectmen who proceeded to vote 4-0 in favor of reducing the fee to $100. Selectman John Ballantine also commiserated with Bearfield's contention that the approval process is arduous and declared, "We must try to streamline the process. This is the third meeting with the Board of Selectmen." Others agreed and suggested it be the subject of a future discussion.
Town Common Committee seeks wider representation
The Board of Selectman appointed Reverend Timothy Jensen, Alan Cameron, Eunice Knight, Jennifer Bush, Jack O'Connor, Sylvia Sillers, Tom Lockwood and John Lee to the Town Common Committee. Selectman Deb Belanger observed that five of the appointees were associated with the First Religious Society and she would prefer to see more diversity on the committee. The Board hoped that more volunteers would come forward to round out the group. The Committee will be reviewing the current condition of the Common and making recommendations for improvements.
Resignations and appointments
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 to accept the resignation of Lisa Jensen-Fellows from the Finance Committee. They also voted unanimously to appoint Donald Rober, Jr. to a three-year term on the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee and grant three-year terms to both Thomas Dunkers and Jeanne Rourk to the Council on Aging.
Fire Department fees raised
Fire Chief Dave Flannery presented a revised fee schedule to the Board of Selectmen on July 13 for their approval. Flannery noted, "The department is responsible for over 40 types of applications, permits, and inspections. All are required to be issued by the head of the fire department." He has determined that the fire department still does not cover costs in conjunction with receiving applications, conducting inspections, and issuing permits as required by law, and he therefore recommends an increase of from $5 to $15 on each fee to accurately reflect the cost the town incurs.
Flannery recommended that, for the first time, a fee of $300 be charged for the installation of a cistern or dry hydrant (fire pond source). He has found that these installations are very labor intensive and require multiple inspections. This will be a new fee as there has been no charge for these installations in the past. Selectmen Doug Stevenson agreed, saying that the town eventually owns all cisterns and, "We want to make sure that they're installed correctly." The Board voted 4-0 to approve the new fee schedule.
© 2004 The