Commission reviews Ambler Farm proposal

The Planning and Zoning Commission has started its deliberations on Ambler Farm’s proposal to modify its special permit regulations.

The property is owned by the town of Wilton and managed by Friends of Ambler Farm, Inc. The group wants to allow for-profit organizations to hold events such as weddings on the property. No formal decision was made on the application.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Scott Lawrence said he was in favor of a partial grant at the commission’s meeting Monday night, April 8.

“I’m OK with relaxing some parameters,” Lawrence said.

The commission unanimously agreed to not restrict users to nonprofit groups. Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Rick Tomasetti said he was against restricting users of the farm.

“I understand potentially why the prior commission did it to restrict it, but I don’t like in any way ever prohibiting a specific user,” Tomasetti said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Ambler Farm Executive Director Robin Clune said during the public hearing easing these limitations could help in raising funds for the farm. Lawrence said he was good with loosening this limitation as long as there was a clear definition of what constitutes commercial use.

“If they had a private event and somebody tried to sell something for pecuniary gain to that person, then that would be trending to our definition and our regulation of commercial use,” he said.

Lawrence also proposed reviewing the results from any changes made to the special permit in two years. This could give the commission a chance to make additional changes if needed, he said.

Another change looked to be made is allowing up to two domesticated pigs to be held at the farm for town educational purposes. Lastly, Lawrence said he was in favor of keeping the current limitations on sound for Ambler Farm.

Another modification looked to be made at Ambler Farm was the number of events. Friends of Ambler Farm has proposed 30 daytime events of 50 to 100 people and unlimited events for fewer than 50 people.

“In the interest of compromise and incrementalism that is a lot of use that isn’t necessarily currently in place,” Lawrence said.

Friends of Ambler Farm also proposed a maximum of 10 special events a year of no more than 120 guests. Lawrence proposed allowing eight special events and seeing how they’re regulated by Friends of Ambler Farm.

Commission member Peter Shiue said he understood the limitation, but believed Friends of Ambler Farm could self-regulate.

“I think they’ll know pretty quickly what will work,” he said. “They’ll get pushback from neighbors.”

The commission will continue deliberations at its next meeting on April 22.