Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mount Hope Farm Master Plan and Preliminary Review passes Tuesday night July 21 in a 5—0 vote.

The Planning Board met again Tuesday night after a site visit at Mount Hope Farm on Monday afternoon to review location for greenhouses. After the visit, the Planning Board thought the priority site for the greenhouses should be east of the barn nearer existing buildings and not in the middle of the open meadow. It was noted by Mount Hope Farm that this area may have a septic leaching field under it. (For the two baths in the barn and one in the kennel) If this is the case, the farm will return to the Planning Board for further review and other option locations for the four season greenhouses. A secondary site was not chosen.

A permanent cement tent pad (approx. 50' x 100') will be going in near Cove Cabin primarily for wedding functions and MHF fund raisers. (Paul Ryan assistant solicitor for the PB, noted that no building permit is needed for a tent pad.) The farm remains open to the public during these functions although Cove Cabin and the road passing Cove Cabin is closed during the events. Cove Cabin is on a septic system with leach field. The tent pad will honor the location of the existing septic system. The exact location of the pad was not determined.

Discussion followed by concerned MHF Board members, lawyer for Cove Cabin neighbor Angelo Stanzione, Bristol Landing and Weetamoe condo owners about development and noise. The farm needs to figure out a way to make money and sustain itself but still stay as natural open space enjoyable to the citizens of Bristol. PB chair, Jerome Squatritto, pointed out that "the town does not want to pay to maintain the farm and that it must be allowed to pay for itself." Bill Whitty, MHF board member, said the farm spends $350K to maintain itself per year. Mr. Squatritto also pointed out that noise issues were under the jurisdiction of the Town Council and the Bristol Police Department — not the Planning Board.

Nancy Stratton, MHF Trustee, spoke about the lack of meetings and information spread to the 8 member Board of Trustees about current plans for the farm. She mentioned several of the trustees first heard about the Planning Board meeting and the Mount Hope Farm Master Plan Review from reading the Bristol Phoenix newspaper. She said there was no participation in the process or approval of said plans at any board meetings she was aware of. She said the Board of Trustees needs to be involved in the process and share in the decision making in a thoughtful and appropriate manner. She also mentioned that engineering and scientific experts are ready to be brought into the the process to volunteer and donate their time and NEED to be welcomed to help the board make difficult decisions as the farm shifts to new sustainable ideas.

Bill Whitty, MHF Trustee, noted that many of the items within the master plan are things that Jim Farley, president of the board, had 'imagined' for the farm and would be discussed for implementation more thoroughly after the approval of the plan.

Chuck Millard, Planning Board member, summed it up best by saying he didn't "like being in a position to argue with an organization I am in support of."

Blogger note: It was very difficult to hear at this meeting. (Microphones not on or working; air conditioning loud and going on and off) Preserve Bristol did not attend the site review on Monday.

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