SCARBOROUGH – Meeting House Farm, located at 35 Hunnewell Road, has received approval from the Scarborough Zoning Appeal Board to conduct online business on the property with several conditions.
Located on a historic property dating back to the 1700s, the farm is owned by Emily and Scott Springer, who started Meeting House Farm in 2017, its website said. Over 80 different medicinal herbs are cultivated on 2.5 hectares as well as a vegetable garden.
The property is located in the residential R-2 district of Scarborough. The city’s zoning ordinance states that commercial agriculture is only allowed in an R-2 zone if a landowner requests exceptional use.
Meeting House Farm owners Emily and Scott Springer filed a Special Exception Appeal Request earlier this year with the request to continue the farm’s online activities, host small classrooms on the property and to set up a farm stand. After the zoning appeal board rejected that request, the Springers returned to the board on August 11 with an amended proposal.
“I have a very, very small business,” said Emily Springer. “We base this business on what we grow, then sell the extras, sell the extra vegetables, sell the extra flowers, and what we grow for our family is paramount, and what we sell is extra. We consume over 50 percent of what we grow today.
A number of neighbors on the farm have expressed support for the Springer and their farm.
Heidi Seely, who said she lives near the property, said she thinks Meeting House Farm is a beneficial addition to the neighborhood.
“I think it’s important as members of this community that we want to encourage small businesses,” she said. “I think it’s great that she’s doing what she’s doing, and it’s disappointing that some of my neighbors are so opposed to it.”
Jennifer Cleary, a neighbor, said she was concerned about traffic and the city’s ability to enforce Meeting House Farm compliance, especially after owners scaled back their initial plans for public events and a farm stand.
“Hunnewell Hill is one of the few in the whole neighborhood that doesn’t have a sidewalk,” she said.
The conditions that the board has listed for Springers to follow as part of the special exception use include the limit of no more than five vehicles in the aisle, none on the street, and only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Sales must be made online and a physical exchange must take place off-site, and no classes or public events are permitted.
Meeting House Farm is well known and neighbors will most likely notify the town if the rules are broken, said James Hebert, chairman of the board.
“There is enough attention on this property that should, if they try to scale it up or go beyond any kind of restrictions the council would place on this property, someone would let it know. the city and the application would take place, ”he said.
Hebert said the Springers should work with their neighbors.
“Given the level of concern that some members have raised about your company, if the board approves this request, I think it would be very important to try and work with them as best you can, knowing that this is a really hot item for a lot of people who are here right now, whether the board votes yes or no on this app, ”he said.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the appeal.
On the Meeting House Farm public Facebook page, Emily Springer shared a message of gratitude for those who supported the call.
“It was so empowering to see that people care and want small farms in their neighborhood,” she said. “We got the right to cultivate our land. We wouldn’t have won without so much support. I am filled with gratitude.