Friday, May 13, 2005
Ferns outdoor plans stall before Historical Commission
A proposed outdoor piazza and "water feature" at Ferns drew nearly a dozen residents to the May 4 meeting of the Carlisle Historical Commission. Ferns owner Larry Bearfield brought sketches and plans for "upgrading the look as people come in to the town center" and described the fencing, landscaping and other features that will, he predicted, enhance the area around the store. The piazza, or patio, would hold five wrought-iron tables and chairs, under green umbrellas. The wrap-around farmer's porch and a flagpole were previously approved.
Two-level brick piazza?
Of particular concern to the Historical Commission was the revelation that the space for siting the brick piazza was not level — a two-foot drop from corner to corner would require the installation of a retaining wall, which came as a surprise to Bearfield. Commission member Barry Ganek assured him that, "No one objects to this amenity," but cautioned Bearfield that he will find that "he cannot build what he's showing." Commissioner Larry Sorli suggested that an engineer or landscaper survey the area, to which Bearfield replied that costs of implementing his plans are mounting and he needs time to think about his next step.
The Historical Commission requested additional information before the project can be approved: 1) dimensions and elevations of the piazza area; 2) dimensions of the retaining wall and its composition; 3) illustration showing how the picket fence will sit on the retaining wall, and 4) samples of brick.
"100% support," strong disapproval
Comments from the audience ranged from total support for Bearfield's project to strong disapproval. Mary Beth Stevenson "supports the project 100%," adding that "town boards would help people by moving projects along." Annette Lee, an Historical District resident, opposed the project, calling the plans "almost resort-like" and further suggesting that the seating be moved behind the store which would pose less of a risk to children. Jack O'Connor disapproved of the plans, citing his objection to the "water feature" if it is seen from the street. "Less is more," he advised. Peg Schafer believed that the plans were "not out of character with olden days. The town center looks run down and this would improve its look."
Some controversy erupted when a resident challenged a speaker: "You don't live in the center," suggesting that only center residents should have a voice in matters concerning the district. Several Commissioners reminded the public that the center belongs to all townspeople and all voices should be heard.
A flood of e-mails
Historical Commission Chair David Chaffin was concerned about the flood of e-mails he had received supporting and opposing Bearfield's plans. "E-mails don't help the Commission decide how a project impacts on the center," he said. "They are inappropriate." Townspeople who wish to weigh in on a matter before the Commission, or any town board, should arrange to attend the meeting, he advised. Commissioner Mary Ann Kitrosser added, "E-mails don't affect what the Commission is supposed to do. We are concerned with the rules and regulations that govern our board."
Although the Historical Commission's next meeting will be June 21, members agreed that they would meet earlier if Bearfield requested such a meeting. The ball is now in Larry Bearfield's court — or piazza.
The Bank of America was scheduled to appear at this meeting to continue discussions about its sign at the ATM in the center, but no one from Batten Brothers Sign Company, the bank's representative, was present.
© 2005 The