New Ipswich tea party business ordered to cease and desist

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/1/2022 1:55:04 PM
Modified: 8/1/2022 1:54:54 PM

Silver Scone Teas in New Ipswich was ordered to cease business at the end of June, after it was found the business had not applied for the proper town approvals before starting operations.

Owner Jane Elwell has begun the filing process to gain the needed special exception to operate a business in the Rural District, according to town officials.

Rick Donovan, who was the town’s code enforcement officer until his departure in mid-July, issued a cease-and-desist letter to Elwell on June 29.

According to the letter, the town’s zoning ordinance prohibits a business use on a property in the Rural District unless a special exception is provided by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Elwell also did not go through a site-plan approval process with the Planning Board, as is required.

A special exception is a process that outlines specific, permitted land uses in a district, but that use must meet certain conditions before it is approved. In New Ipswich, the applicant must show the site is appropriate, that it won’t adversely affect the area, there will be no nuisance or hazards to vehicles or pedestrians and the facilities are adequate for the use.

A letter sent to Elwell on July 13 from Michael P. Courtney, an attorney with Upton & Hatfield, representing the town, alleged that though Donovan’s June 29 letter ordered Silver Scones Tea to stop operation or be subject to fines, there were complaints that events were held at the 99 River Road property on July 9 and 10, and at that point, there had been no applications filed with the Zoning Board or Planning Board to rectify the zoning deficiencies.

Select Board Chair Shawn Talbot said Elwell has begun the filing process to apply for the needed permissions.

“In the Village District, there are very few types of businesses allowed,” Talbot said. “She should have gotten a special exception before opening. There became some issues around parking, particularly, especially as I believe the size of her events has grown.”

The town became aware of the violations due to complaints from neighbors, specifically around parking for events.

Talbot said he spoke to Elwell personally about a month before the cease-and-desist letter was issued about gaining the needed permissions, but when she did not file an application with the town in a timely manner, the town issued the order to stop operations.

Talbot said the town has the ability to impose fines if the business continues operation without receiving the proper permits. Civil penalties start at $275 for a first offense and increase $550 for subsequent offenses for each day that the violation is found to continue. Talbot said the Select Board has not made any decision whether or not to pursue fines, but does expect the business to cease operation until it goes through the board processes.

“Our position is to stop holding those business events until she gets that special exception,” Talbot said.

Talbot said he personally does not hold any ill will to the business, and although there are logistics to work out, it may well be a good fit for the district, though it may need certain restrictions on event size or a parking solution that avoids parking on the road and disturbing the neighbors.

“I think this has a good community function. I’m in support of the business as a whole, once she gets the proper permits in place,” Talbot said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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