The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 1, 2006


Water issues stall Ferns' expansion

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has determined that Ferns Country store is operating as an unregistered public water supply as defined under 310 CMR 22.00. The Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) addressed this as well as concerns about Ferns' proposed expansion at Tuesday night's meeting. Carlisle Center's only store received another blow when the board announced that the DEP will consider owners Larry Bearfield and Robin Emerson's desired addition and business expansion to be "new construction," which would require complete Title 5 compliance.

A public water supply, as described by the DEP regulations, regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days a year. While the store uses bottled water for coffee preparation and does not have a public restroom, Board of Health agent Linda Fantasia explained that DEP bases their decisions on "potential" water usage, given the number of people on the site. Bearfield and Emerson are required by the state to go through an application process to have the supply "classified." After this the state continues regular testing and monitoring of the well.

Bearfield and Emerson have proposed an expansion to the store that would include converting the former Daisy's gas station garage to retail space for wine and beer; creating a café/lounge with seating for 25 people and an expanded deli/kitchen within the current store space; constructing a new structure between the two existing buildings. Bearfield said the seating would be for deli takeout customers, and he stressed that there would be no table service.

Septic system limitations

Now that the DEP has designated the expansion as new construction, the Title 5 process that would result if they choose to go ahead might challenge the owners to meet tougher requirements on a site that has already presented several environmental hurdles in the past. According to Fantasia, the state specifies a system flow rate of 970 gallons per day, given the store, two-bay garage and apartment on the property. Because of the site and soil conditions, the state stipulates a reduced usage not to exceed 21.7% of that, or 210.5 gallons per day.

If a new system is required, Fantasia said that Bearfield might have difficulty building it given the constraints of his site.

Nonetheless, Bearfield and Emerson still have options. The first, said Bearfield, is to do nothing. Second, they can convert the garage (only) to retail space to sell wine and beer. Third, they can attempt the entire expansion, including the café and middle building.

The board also discussed changes that were made at the store this summer, when a brick patio, a stone wall and several café tables with umbrellas were added outside the side of the store that faces Bedford Road. Bearfield explained that the seating in the front replaces seating that had existed in less visible locations outside of the store (mostly in the form of picnic tables) and provides a more pleasant environment in which patrons can enjoy food or drinks purchased at the store. Members of the board agreed that the outside seating will not cause an increase or change of use and will not be considered new construction. Thus Ferns is currently spared a Title 5 review.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito