Peacock Hill Road orchard seeks event venue approval

| Joanne Cole, NGX |

The planning board on February 4 took up an application from David and Leslee Clark to hold outdoor events at their Royal River Orchards at 161 Peacock Hill Road.  They anticipate placing tents on their fields for weddings and perhaps other occasional single-day events.  Applicant Leslee Clark described their plans as “an extension of what we’re doing at the orchard.”

Asked by board member Ben Tettlebaum to estimate the number of events they might host, Clark was unsure.  She explained that they had been approached by a few people and simply wanted to have appropriate permits for this potential additional activity. 

Board members discussed whether the plan represents a significantly different use.  “I don’t see hardly anything changing,” member Doug McAtee said.  Others were less sure.  Town planner Scott Hastings noted that the office had received several inquiries about the application, including questions about noise and traffic. 

That apparent interest in the application, along with the large number of abuttors—some 22 properties and 15 different owners, Hastings said—persuaded the board to send the matter to a public hearing.  Board chair Don Libby commented, “Not everyone knows what we have for ordinances.” He thought a public hearing would have the benefit of ensuring that “there’s nothing left out there in the gray area for anyone afterwards” and there would be “no unanswered feelings or questions” from neighbors and other interested parties.

With the decision to seek a public hearing made, the real issue of the night emerged: scheduling it.  Out came phones and calendars.  In addition to its regular meetings and the hearing on the Clarks’ application, the planning board will participate in a joint meeting, set for Tuesday February 11, with the Select Board and Land Management Planning Committee to discuss the town’s draft solar energy system ordinance.  Planner Hastings will follow up as possible hearing dates and board members’ availability become clearer.       

Video of the Planning Board’s February 4 meeting is available here