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Sweet Tree Arts expansion gains approval

Tire business also approved
By Daniel Dunkle | Mar 31, 2021
Source: Sweet Tree Arts website

Hope — Sweet Tree Arts, the nonprofit arts center and school headquartered in Hope, received approval for its new project from the Planning Board March 24 after a public hearing where local residents expressed strong support.

The board previously reviewed the site plan for Sweet Tree Arts for its new satellite location at 293 Ludwig Road.

The application was for a change of use to a school. The property has been owned by Coastal Workshops Inc.

Sweet Tree Arts already has one location at 4 Church St. in Hope.

Director Lindsay Pinchbeck told the Planning Board the plan was to use the new location in part for the Sweetland School, which is a K-8 program providing instruction for students with integration of arts in education and a small teacher-to-student ratio. The new building may become home to some of the grades of the school.

In addition, the center plans to hold community programs including art classes and sewing.

The director said the groups involved in these activities are not “raucous.”

The Planning Board looked at the parking situation as it was asked to do by the Zoning Board.

With two classrooms, four to five employees and about 10 students on site, the 10 parking spaces were found to meet the ordinance requirements. It was also noted the building has a wide driveway, but the school is encouraged not to have vehicles parked on Ludwig Road.

The board also held a public hearing on S & H Tires, owned by Shane Stockbridge at 294 Hatchet Mountain Road. The business is a small operation where Stockbridge mounts tires for customers by appointment.

Neighbors of the project raised concerns in the hearing about impact on property values, noise and customers driving across their property on a right-of-way held by the Stockbridge family. However, by the end of the meeting they said they felt better about things after hearing from Stockbridge about plans for the future.

Stockbridge and his parents participated in the public hearing online, and at one point his father said if his son is as successful as they hoped and the business had to expand, it would move to another location to expand into a larger operation.

The board had to consider the regulations in the ordinance which allowed a repair business, but not an auto parts sales business in that area. The finding of the board was that this is a service business, more in line with a repair business and not similar to an auto parts store.

Planning Board Chair Langley Willauer asked if the board should limit the number of tires allowed to be stored on the property or require that they not be stored outside.

Board member Molly Luce questioned if that was overreaching. “Don’t we have to trust them to a certain extent?” she asked.

The board voted to approve the business with the stipulation that it plant evergreen screening along part of the property.

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