The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ferns does not need a Special Permit

Ed. note: The following letter was sent to the Board of Selectmen and is printed here at the request of the writer.

To the Selectmen:

I am responding to a letter to the Selectmen by Robert Hilton, published in the Mosquito, in which he continues to take issue with our [Ferns] indoor seating, opining that he believes that we need a Special Permit.

At a recent meeting I was informed that Mr. Hilton had raised the issue and that the Selectmen thought it necessary to engage Town Counsel for a legal opinion. Town Counsel concluded that the mere sale of sandwiches, baked items, coffee, etc., over the counter makes for a “restaurant” and that starting such a “restaurant” at Ferns would require a Special Permit.

We do not require a Special Permit because the deli operation that Town Counsel concluded made Ferns a “restaurant” has been going on continuously at the property since 1928 – years before Carlisle even had zoning.

The Zoning Bylaws clearly take into account, and grandfather, prior use existing before the bylaws were adopted. The Mosquito documented the long history of food preparation and sale at our site in an Oral History interview with property owners Barbara Culkins and Bob Daisy. Bob and Barbara were raised here. Barbara still lives upstairs.

Further, we received approval for our indoor seating by both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health on June 8, 2010.

The renovations at Ferns have undergone spectacular amounts of “process.” So far, Ferns has spent seven years obtaining two Site Plan Approvals from the Selectmen with Planning Board input, ZBA Variances, Building Permits, Annual Common Victualler’s Licenses from the Selectmen, a Liquor License, Annual Food Permits from the Board of Health, and three rounds of agreements and permits with the State DEP. And we are now beginning a “Modification to the Site Plan Approval” process to further review the use of our very thoroughly regulated facility.

For someone to continue to claim we need a Special Permit and to malign public officials to boot is, at best, disingenuous.

We look forward to moving forward as we strive to serve town residents as Carlisle’s community store and a social gathering place.

Larry Bearfield, co-proprietor

Ferns Country Store

Concerns regarding BYOB

To the Editor:

I have followed with enthusiasm, then wariness, and now great trepidation as Carlisle has addressed requests to change the essence and character of the store at the center of our town. I was happy to be able to pick up a bottle of wine locally when unexpected guests arrived; I wasn’t sure about expanded seating, but didn’t see what harm it would do (not that the public was invited to comment on that decision); now that BYOB seems poised to be next on the slippery slope, I have concerns.

The first taste of independence for many Carlisle schoolchildren is to walk from school to the library, with a side trip to Ferns for a snack with friends. (We don’t have a crossing guard there because kids actually live across from the library!) What does it say to these, children, fresh from the DARE drug and alcohol program, to drink a soda next to another patron who finishes a beer or three with his sandwich before pulling out into traffic and driving off? (With BYOB, it seems the establishment does not control the volume consumed.) I doubt many will come to Ferns with a designated driver, and how often have you been almost hit by presumably sober customers backing into the rotary?

I’m sure I’m not the only concerned parent, driver, or resident of Carlisle who lacks enthusiasm for BYOB at Ferns. Please let the Selectmen know how you feel, and show up at the Board of Selectmen Public Hearing on December 21.

Kari G. Doucette, MD

Ember Lane

Letter from an old Carlisle friend

To the Editor:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! To relieve any possible anxiety, I am alive and in good health. Although the experts say that a spinal cord injury takes ten years from one’s life, I passed the 90-year birthday marker last October and 28 years as a paraplegic in September.

The year, however, was not without excitement – a compound fracture of the right leg became infected and amputated between the knee and ankle. I still get around in a manual wheelchair as well as ever. The real excitement came during a four-minute period in the emergency room when my heart and lungs ceased to function. Prompt CPR brought me around. When I learned that only five out of one hundred survive, I credited my good fortune, including retention of mental capacity, to the grace of God and prayers of my friends and relatives.

The VA is taking good care of me at its community living center in Menlo Park, including a private room large enough for a desk, table and computer. The computer keeps me in touch with family and friends, including surviving troopers of the 51st Parachute Infantry. We made it through five major battles in Europe which makes us a tightly knit band of brothers.

It is well to remember we celebrate Christ’s birth – not the appendage of merchandising on Black Friday. More than 2,000 years later, we are the beneficiaries of His Word in our personal lives and from His influence on the society in which we live.

With my love,

Howard Hensleigh


595 Willow Road, Bldg. 360-G,

Menlo Park, CA 94025-2539

Ed. note: Howard is a former Carlisle Selectman, School Committee member and Caucus moderator.

BYOB and “Commercial Entities” in Carlisle

To the Editor:

According to recent reports, the Carlisle Board of Selectmen (BOS) will address the request of Ferns Country Store to permit BYOB in its operation and has established public hearings on the matter. The Board has chosen to ignore the current practice of at least one nonprofit (noncommercial) entity which for several years has offered BYOB in town without restrictions or regulation.

While the Union Hall Coffeehouse is a terrific community program, I believe ignoring their current practice of offering BYOB without regulation is a mistake. The BOS should develop a general policy that applies to any and all operations seeking to offer BYOB at events in town, whether commercial or noncommercial operations. In its effort to “keep it simple,” the BOS is planning to consider commercial regulations covering only one entity in town while ignoring other entities simply because they operate on a nonprofit basis. This appears to be biased and unfair.

The Union Hall Coffeehouse, a nonprofit organization, distributes its excess income to social action projects of the FRS and to other area charities such as the Greater Lowell Open Pantry. Because it is run entirely by volunteers, the First Religious Society, which hosts the Coffeehouse, also is exempt from tax liability under the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) provision of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

The Coffeehouse and the FRS are not commercial entities; however, the artists and performers they employ clearly are commercial entities. These performing groups surely consider the venue’s BYOB policy an appealing option in attracting customers to their performances.

I believe the Board of Selectmen should develop a comprehensive solution to the BYOB issue for both commercial and noncommercial (nonprofit) entities. Let’s get it right the first time. But let’s not waste more time in the process. We’ve all waited long enough.

Jim Kistler

Heald Road

Thanks for your donations to the Salvation Army Kettle To the Editor:

We would like to thank all those who generously helped fill our Salvation Army kettle. These funds will be used to support folks in Carlisle. So please drop in your change or make a donation in a friend’s name as a holiday gift.

Although it may come as a surprise to many, Carlisle does indeed have our share of residents in need. All contributions made to our “Town Kettle” remain in town (please note for Carlisle, Mass. on the note section of your check). These funds allow us to support residents with fuel, food, and other essentials when the need arises.

Residents (of all ages) who have needs are encouraged to call the Carlisle Council on Aging at 1-978-371-2895. Complete confidentiality is assured. Thanks also goes to Ray Taylor, treasurer of the Friends of the Carlisle Council on Aging, for handling the deposits and to Larry Bearfield and Robin Emerson for giving up valuable counter space for this worthy cause. Your generous support is very much appreciated.

Angela Smith

Carlisle Council on Aging Outreach Coordinator

HGRM needs you

To the Editor:

Headlines tell the stories of the folks who will come through the doors of HGRM, Household Goods Recycling of Mass., in the coming weeks. People affected by fires, violence and economic displacement. People stabilizing their lives after homelessness or the experience of war. People struggling with mental or physical disabilities and the people who care for them. Every year, thousands of families and agencies serving them come to rely on HGRM.

The need is great and the opportunities to help are endless. HGRM will be collecting kitchen items, including small appliances, dishes, pots and pans etc, bathroom and bedding items, small rugs, and anything that someone could use to set up an apartment. Please bring these items to the Carlisle Farmers Market, Saturday, December 18, at FRS. Come and get a brochure; volunteer your time; tour the facility in Acton and you will be hooked on helping. For now clean those closets and help those who need us. Check the web site for more information.

Carol Foster

Nathan Lane

Thanks to Daisies

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the Daisies from Carlisle Troop #75011. They have been very busy as Santa’s helpers for the homeless families at Milly’s Place Shelter. All families have been sponsored with many gifts for the children and parents. With the Daisies’ generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness this holiday season the families at Milly’s Place Shelter will have a Very Merry, Joyous Christmas.

Stacey Stanichuk

Community Teamwork, Inc.

Milly’s Place, Program Manager 

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito