Owls Head Planning Board Chair Russell Wolfertz Jr. and other board members have a public hearing Aug. 26. Stephen Betts

OWLS HEAD — Owls Head residents will decide Monday night, Aug. 30, whether to allow events centers on properties of more than 15 acres.

If the public hearing held Aug. 26 by the Owls Head Planning Board is any indication, there is widespread, strong support for the ordinance change.

About 90 people turned out for the public hearing at the municipal building with an overwhelming number of speakers saying the change should be approved.

Christina and Jeff Woodman want to have an event/gathering center at their 32-acre Ash Point Farm at 35 Ash Point Drive.

The ordinance will be on the Aug. 30 annual town meeting warrant as the result of a petition submitted to the town office signed by 106 residents — more than the 95 required to have items placed on a town meeting warrant. The Woodmans’ attorney Kristin Collins said earlier this month the request was time sensitive, because approval would be needed at the town meeting for the couple to book events for next summer.

At the Aug. 26 public hearing, resident Michael McGuire pointed out he lives across from the farm and supports the change. The property has been operated as a horse farm, then was Breakwater Vineyards which had events like wine tastings. He said neither of those businesses were a problem. He also told residents that the Woodmans hosted the Oceanside High School senior prom, and he could not hear the music from his home.

“This would class up Owls Head and not denigrate the quality of life,” McGuire said.

Lynn Tierney said farms across the country are struggling, and allowing events at an intimate setting such as this would help the Woodmans. She said innovation will help both the farm and the community.

Several residents also complained about a mailer that was sent to residents in the past week, which opposed the ordinance change.

“I don’t want any more junk mail like that. It just causes divisions,” resident Adam Philbrook said.

Lynn Chaplin said she trusts the Woodmans, but was concerned the ordinance would allow events centers on other larger parcels that are not situated like Ash Point Farm, which has its driveway on Ash Point Drive. She said there is a large parcel at the end of her narrow road and that an events center with a 100 or more people would be a problem. She also questioned who would measure the decibels to make sure noise levels were not exceeded.

Attorney Collins pointed out that the ordinance would require each proposed events center to go before the Planning Board, which would make sure the projects are met the town standards and would not disturb a neighborhood.

Last year, The Woodmans originally requested  a waiver to allow them to have events such as weddings on the farm, which is located in a rural residential zone.

In August 2020, the board voted 3-2 — with Ken Wexler and Russell Wolfertz Jr. voting against — to approve the Woodmans’ request.

Wexler, however, appealed that approval to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which upheld his appeal.

Since then, the Woodmans sought to get the zoning adjusted.

Under the proposed ordinance change, events could run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with cleanup continuing until 11 p.m. One toilet for every 50 people would be required. The centers would need to meet noise and parking requirements already in place in town.

Owls Head has 1,442 registered voters although annual town meetings typically don’t attract far more than 100 people.

About 90 people turned out Aug. 26 for the Owls Head Planning Board public hearing. Stephen Betts