OTISFIELD — The Otisfield Planning Board is considering a site plan application that may allow an historic farm on Gore Road to become the site of the Oxford Hills latest “wedding barn.”

The proposed wedding barn is located in the 1840 Linnell Farm at 439 Gore Road that was recently purchased, along with 65 acres of farmland, by Tammy Ray Webster, who said she lived previously in Auburn. The farm had only been owned by only three generations of family members when she purchased it and 65 acres several months ago.

Webster told the Advertiser Democrat said she has been working closely with the town to ensure everything is done to its site plan review standards and in the best interest of the neighborhood.

“This is our home first and foremost,” said Webster. “We’re doing everything the town has asked us to. They’re being very particular about what they want.”

In November, the planning board voted to require a site plan review because of the change of use from a residence to a form of “inn” and because of the extensiveness and probable costs of the remodeling involved, according to planning board minutes.

The application must pass 19 criteria ranging from the type of any rare or endangered species found on the project parcel as listed by the Natural Areas Program of the Maine Department of Conservation; traffic data including the estimated peak hour and average daily traffic to be generated by the proposal; the size, location and direction and intensity of illumination and method of installation of all major outdoor lighting and the type, size and location of all machinery likely to generate noise at the lot lines.

To date, the planning board has determined that the majority of the of the 19 criteria have been met but several items remain outstanding, such as an engineered parking plan and a public hearing, before the board will vote on the overall application.

Webster said she intends to remodel one of the barns for her own home and let up to 12 wedding guests use the main house that has six bedrooms and several baths as an overnight “bed and breakfast” without the breakfast.

The “wedding” barn, which can hold up to 150 people, will be unheated so weddings will be held only during the warm months. Because the windows of the wedding barn face northward over the valley it is expected any music will drift for miles without directly hitting any residents. Although details have not been worked out yet, Webster said she expects the music will end around 10 p.m.

Additionally the board is concerned about traffic impacts and parking.

“The town had more concerns about the road that is a very busy road,” she said. Parking, for example, will be laid out on a field past the main area of the buildings and the planning board has required she hire an engineer to design a site plan for parking and lighting and other issues,

A letter from the the board of selectmen to Webster verifying that Gore Road has the capacity to hold the additional traffic has also been submitted to the planning board and Ray said she has spoken to the road commissioner.

The selectmen’s signoff is one of the 19 criteria.

Webster said some neighbors are aware of the plan and she said no one has expressed any reservations yet, although she will not be surprised if some neighbors initially have concerns.

Because the engineer still has work to do on the parking design, Webster said everything may not be done by the planning board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. She said she is not concerned about rushing the timetable because she does not expect to be ready for a full season this summer.

Code Enforcement Officer Richard St. John said he has identified 27 abutters who will be notified of a public hearing in the future after all the submissions from the applicant are received. That will be the time they have the opportunity to express any concerns for public record and consideration by the planning board in their approval of the site plan application.

“We’re trying to be right up front with everyone,” said Webster.

The farm was previously only owned by three generations of the Linnell family, including its last owner, Orrell Linnell, who passed away at the age of 103 in 2013.

Orrell Linnell went into the family farm business after his high school graduation but later ventured into other occupations for a while before returning the the farm to raise mass production produce and chickens (broilers).

He also harvested lumber and used it to construct some of the outbuildings used to store supplies and equipment. In 1976 he donated a wood turned replica of the Liberty Bell for the country’s 1976 Bicentennial. He created the wooden bell after a visit to see the real Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It is housed in the selectmen’s meeting room.

Webster said she has been researching the history of the farm and is excited about the opportunity to share it with others and to utilize her skill as a former florist. Webster said part of her plan includes growing field of flowers on the farm that may be used in the weddings.

“Who knows what the future holds,” Webster said of expanding the business later past the warm season. She said she has already been asked about an event during the Christmas holiday period.

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