Warren Planning Board approves event venue

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jul 02, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Planning Board Chairman Joseph Berkenbile, left, listens as Nancy McKeon, right, explains the lay of the land at 615 Finntown Road in Warren, where she and husband, Michael, were approved for an event venue June 27.

Warren — Following a second site walk at a property at 615 Finntown Road June 27, the Warren Planning Board approved a proposed event venue for Sweet Water Farm LLC.

Despite Attorney Patrick Mellor's insistance that the proposal must be reviewed under site plan review because of what he said was a substantial change of use of the property, the board, after reviewing several areas of the proposal, approved the project 5-0.

Mellor was serving as legal counsel for abutters Chris and Debbie Schneider, whose property sits across the street, approximately 60 feet from the proposed venue owned by Michael and Nancy McKeon. They believed added traffic and glare from events across the street would have an impact on their property value.

Mellor provided the board with a packet of information and a letter from Leanne Robicheau, who lives on South Shore Drive and was unable to attend the meeting. The information included newspaper articles about crashes to support Robicheau's and former Knox County Sheriff Dan Davey's previous statements concerning traffic accidents on Finntown Road.

A report presented by McKeon from the Department of Highway Safety noted there had been no fatalities from 2003 to 2019; however, Robicheau's information showed four fatalities on Finntown Road -- three in 1992 and one in 1999.

The board agreed that Finntown Road is a good, wide paved road that is no more of a danger than any other road, and said that most people coming to an event would not be speeding through, but rather slowing to look for the venue.

With regard to noise issues, the McKeons said they plan to erect a six-foot-high stockade fence that will run 130 feet along the parking area for screening. Also, as an added noise buffer, additional screening will be placed in front of the little barn, along with 60 feet of six-foot arborvitae trees, they said.

Two other contingencies included a new septic system with a 635-gallon-per-day volume and an alternative traffic flow, with all incoming traffic entering the south driveway and all vehicles exiting from the north driveway.

The initial idea of the venue was brought to the board Feb. 12, with a preliminary review done March 14, following the initial site walk March 9. However, after some heated debate, the McKeons rescinded their initial application and reapplied for a new venue in April, which showed the removal of a bed-and-breakfast and campsites on the advice of Mellor.

Sweet Water Farm LLC will be an event venue only to hold weddings, birthday parties and other events to accommodate up to 125 people, with outside catering available from approximately 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and as the venue is not heated, it will be used primarily from late spring to October.

The venue is comprised of two existing structures on the 25-acre property, with parking behind in an open field. The property is zoned rural.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Warren Event Venue
Attendees at a second site walk at Sweet Water Farm LLC at 615 Finntown Road in Warren take a look at the roadway June 27. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Measurements show how an event venue at 615 Finntown Road in Warren will be set up. (Courtesy of: Michael McKeon)
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