My faithful readers have probably noticed that I've been kind of quiet on the ol' blog this summer. Lots of reasons--marriage plans, change in jobs, and just plain "it's summer, dang it!" However, the biggest reason is that I've been marshaling forces for the next steps in opening the doors of Aaronap Cellars. With the Fed & state permits under my belt, the next goal is getting permission from the town of Westford.
Actually, I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at town hall here in Westford. They've actually been very pleasant & helpful to deal with. They actually considered my proposal and didn't say "NO" immediately. Instead, we've worked together to lay out a permit plan and they seem quite encouraging of my endeavor. Cross my fingers that this relationship continues!
First step has been to submit a Special Permit for Home Occupation. Since my home is in a residential zoning, a winery isn't exactly on the list of approved uses. However, I'm not asking to open a full-blown winery with public tasting room, and have designed the winery to fit within the by-laws for an incidental home occupation.
No, we're not starting an Occupy Westford movement. Basically this means that the winery will only take up 1/3 of the footprint of the basement and that no significant increase in traffic will occur. Since a 500 gallon winery can't support a full-time tasting room and my sales will be through off-premise venues like farmer's markets, ag events, and retail outlets, I see no reason why I can't comply with those requirements.
I completed & submitted the special permit application this past week and am on the agenda for the Sept Zoning Board meeting. Certified letters of announcement will be going out to my neighbors next week. I'm intending to make the rounds of my neighbor in the next couple of days to introduce myself and the winery plan. Hopefully, I'll be able to head off any strident objections, but we shall see what happens at the public meeting!