Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Temple Wedding and Events Center Gains ZBA Approvals
Monadnock Ledger – Transcript
Posted: 05/16/2022 12:37:54
Modified: 05/16/2022 12:36:07 PM
The Temple Zoning Board on Thursday approved a waiver and special exception to allow the operation of a wedding and events center in Temple, although the Stepping Stones Farm and Events Center must still go through the Planning Board site plan approval process.
Owner Isabella “Boo” Martin has hosted several events at the farm in the past, having initially received informal permission from the Select Board to offer weddings, but after complaints from scorers Martin was directed to the zoning boards and planning for a formal approval process.
On Thursday, the zoning board addressed two separate issues related to the center – a waiver to allow businesses to operate closer to the lot line than is permitted, and a special exception to allow the event center to operate. The council unanimously approved both, but attached a long list of conditions intended to alleviate concerns raised by neighbors regarding noise, safety and neighborhood impact.
The board first addressed the issue of the waiver, which Martin requested to allow the events to occur in the property’s historic barn. The barn is within 33 feet of a lot line, where 100 feet is required for business, but Martin also administers the trust that owns the adjacent lot.
Israel Piedra, the attorney representing Martin, argued that any impact on the property’s value or neighbors would only affect Martin, and if the property was sold, the buyer would be aware of the conditions that existed when it was purchased. . In its decision, the council referred to this connection several times, in its reasoning that the proximity did not harm the area, before approving the requested exemption.
The board collected several hours of testimony about the proposed event center, with people on both sides of the issue weighing in and the biggest concerns coming from neighbors.
Piedra said the main concern Martin heard from residents was about noise. He said the music would only be played inside the barn and “the bottom line is that it will be in accordance with the Temple sound ordinance”.
He also pointed out that the event center would not operate every day or year round.
“We request 15 marriages a year; we are not asking for a huge operation,” Piedra said.
The conditions included requirements that parking be limited to 55 feet from the property line and that a permanent fence be installed to limit parking to this area. Amplified sound is only allowed in the barn, no music or noise after 10 p.m. The number of events is limited to 15 with up to 99 people and 15 smaller events up to 35 people. The barn cannot be enlarged without the agreement of the town hall.
The council discussed safety concerns raised by representatives from the nearby town of Wilton, related to guests driving on local roads at night after attending an event where alcohol may be served. All events with alcohol must have a licensed bartender and drinks cut off at 9:30 p.m.
The council considered requiring a police presence at the events, but ultimately agreed that the other conditions were sufficient.
“I think that’s a little over the top – a lot over the top,” member James Stein said when the board discussed whether to require a police officer for events with more than 50 people where alcohol was served.
Food and drink, including alcohol, must be consumed in the barn.
The council also included a requirement that other buildings on the farm be used only as permanent or long-term residences, and not as short-term rentals for event staff or guests. The only building to be used for events is the barn.
The board approved the special exception, with conditions, unanimously. The council agreed to meet on May 19 to ratify the final notice of decision.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244, or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.