OTISFIELD — Fire Chief Kyle Jordan has determined there is adequate fire protection services at the proposed wedding barn on Gore Road as long as several issues are addressed, including installation of a sprinkler system in the reception hall within the barn.

In a letter submitted to the Otisfield Planning Board on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Jordan laid out his recommendations for fire safety at the proposed wedding barn at 439 Gore Road as part of the town approvals the owner must get.

The proposed wedding barn is located in the 1840 Linnell Farm that was recently purchased, along with 65 acres of farmland, by Tammy Ray Webster, who said she lived previously in Auburn. During its 175-year history, the farm had only been owned by three generations of family members when she purchased it and the land several months ago.

In November 2015, 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.

Webster told the Advertiser Democrat last month that 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.

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.


Jordan said that he has seen a “fire pond” on the property and supports the concept, but recommends engineering to ensure its usefulness.

Jordan said in his letter to the planning board that the closest dry hydrant to wedding barn area is located on State Route 117 in the town of Norway, approximately 3.5 miles away. Under low water conditions, Jordan said it may not  provide enough water and under drought conditions it would not, based on ISO ratings, said Jordan.

The closest dry hydrant in Otisfield is in East Otisfield, near the intersection of State Route 121 and Bean Road, approximately 5 miles away, depending on route of travel. It also would be hard pressed to provide enough water under low water and drought conditions, Jordan said.

The nearest body of water with sufficient access is at the Thompson Lake boat landing in the town of Oxford, near the Otisfield/Oxford town line, approximately 3.5 miles away.

The Otisfield Fire Department has three Class A Engines and a tanker that can provide on initial response 5,600 gallons of water, designed for fire suppression in residential homes in Otisfield. There is also an automatic mutual aid agreement with other towns in case of a structure fire, he said.

In his recommendations Jordan said, “ It is my expectation that the reception hall in the barn have a sprinkler system for immediate fire suppression. Furthermore, it is also my recommendation that any guest accommodations have a sprinkler system.”


Jordan said the engineering and installation of the system would be done under state of Maine Standard for the Design and Installation of Life-Safety Sprinkler Systems, and coordinated with the office of the State Fire Marshall.

He has also mandated fire and carbon monoxide alarms systems be hardwired through the buildings to insure adequate advanced warning.

Other recommendations include:

  • hiring an engineer to ensure the on-site fire pond system will be designed to meet expectations including at an adequate size and depth for summer and winter use, and constructed with a dry hydrant for quick attachment.
  • provisions be made for future maintenance to prevent the pond from becoming overgrown with plant growth or silt.

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 is expected to return to the planning board next month with more information required by the board.


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