The Board of Appeals amended a variance that will now permit the owner of J.B. Sawmill, 32 Fruit St., to extend the business’s closing hours. The new closing hours will overturn a previous 1981 ruling, but also comes with a number of conditions.
At an Oct. 10 public hearing at the Town Hall, those in attendance included Amy Peterson, a trustee of RNR Realty Trust, which owns the land, and her legal counsel Jerry Effren. Several abutters were also there to voice their opinions on the measure.
Previously, the Sawmill’s operating hours were Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, per the application, Peterson was seeking only limited modifications to the operating hours by extending the closing hours from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays to permit delivery trucks to enter and leave the property and to undertake maintenance of equipment and vehicles and performing other work on the property not involving wood cutting or wood processing. In addition, the applicant sought to modify the Saturday hours by extending the closing hours to 3 p.m. for the same purpose.
In 2016, the Board of Appeals unanimously ruled to uphold a decision from Zoning Enforcement Officer Chuck Kadlik limiting the hours of all operations on the J.B. Sawmill property to those stated in a 1981 variance. The board believed extending the hours could affect the neighborhood negatively. Since then, the owner has brought the matter to the courts, and a decision is still pending.
Abutter Nancy Peters, who resides on Wood Street, voiced her opposition to the extended hours. She attended with lawyer Robert Knapik.
Peters noted there have been “many, many, complaints to the Board of Health,” about the noise levels coming from the Sawmill.
“I basically can’t enjoy my own home,” she said.
However, Effren said he had no such complaints on file.
Resident Joe Clark, who lives in the vicinity, said the Sawmill owner and workers have been receptive to receiving any feedback from him and said he had no issues with the noise.
After some discussion among board members, the extended hours were eventually granted, but came with a list of conditions, including no wood cutting or wood processing activities permitted during the extended hours. In addition, the owners will submit a request to the court requesting dismissal of the appeal.
In addition, the owner must convey to employees, vendors and visitors to observe the posted speed limit of 10 mph on site, avoid using “Jake Brakes” and air horns whenever possible, and minimize idling of trucks. Also, workers are to lower materials in trucks rather than dumping the materials from a greater heights, drivers leaving the property earlier during the working day or returning later in the working day must park their trucks away from neighboring properties, and drivers and operators of vehicles and equipment must avoid banging buckets on the ground.