Planners reschedule meeting on wedding barn

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NORWAY — Planning Board approval of a plan to open a wedding barn on Morse Road was delayed again when it was discovered that two of the abutters had not been legally notified.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Gray told a large group of Norway residents who came to the meeting Thursday, Jan. 14, that two of the abutters were not properly notified as required by the town’s site plan review application.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Gray holds up certified receipts of abutters who were properly notified of the Planning Board public hearing to get comment on the proposed Morse Road wedding barn.
Planning Board Chairman Dennis Gray holds up certified receipts of abutters who were properly notified of the Planning Board public hearing to get comment on the proposed Morse Road wedding barn.

Peter Ulrickson, the potential buyer of an historic 19th century farm house at 107 Morse Road, filed a site plan review application last fall to approve a change of use for the property to enable him to operate a “wedding barn.”

Peter Ulrickson, right, listened as Planning Board members tried to determined whether all abutters to Ulrickson's proposed wedding barn on Morse Road were properly notified.
Peter Ulrickson, right, listened as Planning Board members tried to determined whether all abutters to Ulrickson’s proposed wedding barn on Morse Road were properly notified.

The weddings would be held in the barn one day per weekend and have no more than 125 guests. The expected route of traffic for guests would be Greenwood Road to Morse Road.

Last month’s public hearing on Dec. 10 – a requirement of the site plan review – was conducted, but concern arose when it was discovered that everyone had not been properly notified. The board continued the meeting to hear comments from the large group of residents that turned out, but said another hearing may have to be held after additional notices were sent.

Planners and Ulrickson attempted to nail down the correct addresses and Ulrickson is expected to send out new notices and return to the board’s next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Norway has no zoning laws, and there are no guidelines on commercial business development in residential areas. The applicant has to meet certain conditions for the change-of-use request to be approved by the planning board.

But some residents have expressed concern about the plan questioning potential issues such as noise and traffic.

Because of  that concern and other impacts to the area known as Swift’s Corner, a handful of residents asked Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman about the possibility of zoning the outlying village area in North Norway as a way to control commercial ventures, such as the proposed wedding barn, that they say threatens the quiet way of life they are used to.

Corey-Whitman said after December’s hearing that a number of issues have to be determined before the planning board gives the wedding barn the go-ahead. The house on the 20-acre property was built in 1820 and is known as The Old Whitmarsh Place.

Among the outstanding issues is whether the wedding barn is a home occupation or a commercial venture. A home occupation is an occupation or profession which is carried on in a dwelling unit and is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling for residential purposes.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net