Owls Head residents will consider changing zoning rules to allow farms to host weddings and other events at the annual town meeting next week.
The change is spearheaded by Christina and Jeff Woodman, who purchased the former Breakwater Vineyards property last year. They’ve renamed the property Ash Point Farm and hope to book events for next summer. To do that, the zoning must be changed by the fall, according to a letter from their attorney Kristin Collins.
“The petitioned amendments are intended to ensure the economic viability of the former winery property by allowing special events to help supplement the farm’s income,” Collins wrote in a letter accompanying the petition to get the ordinance amendment on the annual town meeting warrant.
More than 100 people signed the petition, which by law means the proposed amendment must be placed on the warrant. The town meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Owls Head Community Building.
According to the town meeting warrant, the proposed ordinance amendment would allow properties of 15 or more acres ― five of which must be dedicated to agricultural use ― to host various types of commercial events. These would include weddings, reunions, corporate or community gatherings, dinners, seminars and other events.
Events would only be allowed between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., and would have to adhere to the town’s noise ordinance.
This is the second time the Woodmans have sought permission to hold events. They went to the town’s planning board last summer to get permission to host commercial events in the residential zone where they are located. However, after the planning board voted to approve their request, the zoning board of appeals overturned the approval.
Owls Head Planning Board Chair Russ Wolfertz — who voted against the Woodman’s request as chair last summer — said Wednesday that the approval was overturned because the planning board did not have the authority to make this type of zoning amendment. Ultimately, voters need to approve a town-wide change, he said.
Wolfertz said he has concerns about how wide the impact of this zoning ordinance change could be. Wolfertz estimated that the zoning rules change would impact about 30 properties in the town’s two rural-residential zones.
While the vote on the ordinance change will occur at the town meeting on Monday, a public hearing is being held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Owls Head Community Building. The planning board must hold the hearing to field questions about the change before the town meeting.