Self-serve bakery stand permit remains under review in Ashfield

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 10-25-2022 7:06 PM

ASHFIELD — After fielding mixed opinions from abutters during a public hearing last week, the Planning Board held off on issuing a special permit for a proposed self-serve bakery stand on Meadow Lane.

The Planning Board will hold the second part of its public hearing over Zoom on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. after a site visit of the property.

Applicant Sita Bird purchased a vintage trailer that she hopes to use to expand her bakery business on the property she currently rents. Bird already runs a home bakery called Le Petit Oiseau Bakery where she sells custom cakes. Bird has been baking professionally for seven years.

The trailer, which Bird hopes to start using in the spring, would offer baked goods such as bread and cookies to be purchased using a self-serve cash box. The special permit application includes three parking spots on the property with a separate location — not next to the parking spots — where the trailer will be parked.

Bird plans to be open only on the weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the possibility of expanding open days in the future. This would be a seasonal business that stays open from May to October.

Planning Board Chairman Alan Rice asked if Bird considered running a stand at the farmers market instead since it is also seasonal. Bird explained the farmers market only allows one stand of baked goods and Bread Euphoria, a bakery in Haydenville, already holds that spot. She said she has considered working at the winter farmers market.

Bird also hopes to create a seating area inside and outside the camper. She explained this would require a separate permit, so she plans to seek this permit after her first season in business.

The application faced some opposition from abutters. Rick Chandler is a member of the Planning Board, but he recused himself from the permitting decision because he is an abutter. Chandler spoke at last week’s meeting as a citizen, saying he opposes the granting of a special permit.

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Chandler said the business would be on a small, dead-end street with poor visibility and no cul-de-sac turnaround available. He said there is no sidewalk and the street is popular for runners and children riding their bicycles.

“I am worried about no supervision,” he added, saying he thinks it is a bad idea for the stand to be self-service.

Abutter Kyla McMahon said her only concern is the traffic the stand might bring.

Chandler also said he is concerned about the precedent that would be set by granting a special permit to a business operating on a rental property. Rice noted the permit goes to an individual, not a property, but there would still be a precedent set.

Not all neighbors opposed the business, however.

“Right now there is no place to buy a decent cookie,” commented abutter Jean Cherdack. “Sita will be using locally sourced products so it is good for the local economy.”

Another concern voiced by the Planning Board is that customers will park along the street to buy goods from the stand, instead of using the allotted parking. Bird explained there are often visitors parking on the street that do not cause problems on the block.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Sita Bird’s name.

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