Stop work order at ‘shack’ site irks owner

  • The Temple Select Board issued a cease and desist order for construction on an extension to a Ben's Sugar Shack storage unit after receiving notice of an appeal of the issuance of the building permit during its Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 meeting. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Select Board members Gail Cromwell and Ken Caisse discuss an appeal to a building permit to expand a storage building on Webster Highway. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Temple Select Board issued a cease and desist order for construction on an extension to a Ben's Sugar Shack storage unit after receiving notice of an appeal of the issuance of the building permit during its Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 meeting. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/7/2016 6:48:16 PM

The Select Board Tuesday ordered a stay of construction on an addition to an existing building at Ben’s Sugar Shack, after an abutter appealed the decision to issue a building permit to the Zoning Board.

At an off-schedule meeting, the board announced that after hearing the same advice from both the town’s lawyer and a consultation from the New Hampshire Municipal Association, the board was legally obligated to issue the stay, despite some hot protests from the audience, which included Ben’s Sugar Shack owner Ben Fisk and his parents, who own the building being expanded.

The Select Board did allow for Fisk to complete a roof cap on the building, which is already underway, to prevent water damage or rot, but specified no other work – including construction on the interior – was to continue. The board unanimously approved the motion.

The stay came as a response to an appeal by abutter Martin Connolly of Temple, who had also protested at the time of the permit’s issuance.

Connolly’s appeal claims that the Select Board did not properly consider whether Ben’s Sugar Shack is a commercial or agricultural business, whether the expansion was significant enough to impact the surrounding properties and streets, and that the building permit was only signed by two of the Select Board members, one of whom is Ken Caisse, an employee of Ben Fisk’s.

Select Board member Gail Cromwell, who did not sign the permit, protested Caisse’s signing at the time, suggesting that it was a conflict of interest. Caisse, however, said that because the building permit was filed by Ben Fisk’s father, Wendell Fisk, with whom he has no relationship, that it was proper.

Fisk responded to several of the points in Connolly’s appeal during the Select Board meeting Tuesday, claiming it was without basis. The building was for storage, said Fisk, and would not further increase traffic in the area.

He also said that a sign advertising commercial activities such as sitework, brush hogging, stone and gravel delivery, rototilling and food planting – which Connolly put forward as evidence of a non-agriculture and commercial nature of Ben’s Sugar Shack – were being advertised on a separate property and were irrelevant to the building expansion.

Despite Fisk’s protests, the board held to its decision, saying the stay would remain until the matter could be heard at the Zoning Board, though Select Board Chair George Willard told Fisk that “I will be there to speak for you.”

Cromwell said that the conversation regarding the appeal was inappropriate to be having at a Select Board meeting, and should properly be had before the Zoning Board when the board considered the appeal, which is scheduled to happen during its Sept. 22.


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