Sedgwick Planning Board Minutes
8 September 2015
Members present were Robert Jones, Chairman, Victor Smith, alternates Peter Atherton and Patricia Egan. Absent were Peter Neill and Michael Rossney. To ensure a quorum for this meeting, Egan was appointed by the Chairman to participate as a Member. In addition, Atherton was appointed a Member for this meeting. Also present were Selectmen Neil Davis and Nelson Grindle, Code Enforcement Officer Duane Ford, Fire Chief David Carter, Bob and Mrs. Comerford, and Dr. and Mrs. Jim Carey.
The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. The resignation of Barbara Grindle as secretary inspired the chairman to ask whether Patricia Egan would serve as secretary. She accepted.
Robert Jones requested email addresses of all members so that a record of communications could be kept. Peter Atherton mentioned that he did not have a computer. Mr. Jones also proposed that every Planning Board meeting be recorded for accuracy when fact-checking. Mr. Jones asked the Selectmen when the vacant seats on the Planning Board would be filled and was told that they would be filled by Thursday evening, September 10th.
The main portion of the meeting revolved around the discussion of the Strong Brewery’s possible non-compliance with state or federal law regarding waste disposal at their site, expanded commercial uses there, and incomplete site plan review documentations. The Code Enforcement Officer had requested that the Strongs attend this meeting but they chose not to do so. Four neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Comerford and Dr. and Mrs. Jim Carey, representing Rope Ferry Rd. residents affected by noises from the business and concerns about pollution of ground water and local wells as well as traffic hazards were present.
An opinion from the Town Lawyer, Diane O’Connell, had been solicited as to whether a new site plan review was required due to the business’ expanded business. Her opinion is that a new site plan review application is required. The Code Enforcement Officer noted the present of six sixty gallon tanks and five 55 gallon drums as well as other drums when he visited the brewery premises.
Comerford and Carey said that they knew the business was supplying beer to four restaurants in addition to what was sold from the premises and to consumers on the site when it served beer there. This information suggested that much more beer was being produced than permitted. Dr. Carey said that any discharge from the brewery into a domestic septic system was against the law. It was noted that it takes five gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer and thus a considerable amount of such discharge was currently going into the Strongs’ septic system. Sanitary concerns were also mentioned due to the presence of chickens uphill from the water well. The Strongs had been requested to cease serving beer on their premises and playing music there. They have cooperated. Mr. Davis indicated that the Strong’s attorney, John Steed had asked him for more time for the Strongs to prepare a new site plan review application: no time frame was indicated. At the Planning Board’s previous meeting it moved that they take no further action until the Strongs had submitted a new site plan review application. Robert Jones said that all communications to and from the Planning Board should be documented in writing for proper record keeping.
Neil Davis said that the Selectmen need time to discuss the ramifications of all of this. Robert Jones said that the Planning Board should have the Strongs’ request for delay in writing. Victor Smith went to the Strongs who claimed that they had no response from the Code Enforcement Officer or the Selectmen.
Mr. Smith said that the Strongs had received State approval evidenced by the issuance of licenses but reiterated that any change in their business expansion plans must be put in writing and presented to the Planning Board to include documentation of their waste disposal, parking plans, etc.
Mr. Smith showed us copies of two State licenses and mentioned that the State inspected the premises yearly. He confirmed that all activities other than brewing had been stopped and that the parking plan had been suspended due to lack of funds. It was also mentioned that State and Federal authorities cannot override local concerns about safety, water quality, traffic, etc.
The discussion concluded with the Chairman’s moving that the Planning Board notify the Selectmen that it has an issue regarding waste water disposal at the Strongs brewery. In order to complete the Brewery’s site plan review application file, it requests the Selectmen initiate action to have the Strongs appear before the Planning Board and provide documentation about waste water disposal system, the quantity of beer being brewed, and that the Board would like to discuss with the Strongs their septic system, waste water, parking, applications, and the status of further expansion plans, etc. Robert Jones suggested that the Planning Board have a special meeting with the Strongs to iron-out existing expansion issues and citizen concerns which met with approval.
The motion was seconded and a vote was taken: Robert Jones, Victor Smith, Patricia Egan For; Peter Atherton, Against. The motion passed.
Dr. Carey mentioned that a petition had been filed with the State requesting that it get involved with parking at the Brewery site, the potential need for widening Rope Ferry Road, sewage disposal. Mr. Comerford explained that they did not want to shut the Brewery down. They simply wanted the Strongs to respect the law since so much had been done without proper permits or approval.
Patricia Colling Egan