Proposed Jaffrey Mountain Zone native plant nursery given go-ahead

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/23/2021 2:22:38 PM

The Jaffrey Zoning Board has given their stamp of approval for an oversized greenhouse to be used for a proposed native plant nursery in the Mountain Zone.

Owner Doug Clayton first approached the board requesting two variances – one to allow commercial sales from the Mountain Zone property, and another for a 1,200 square foot greenhouse, where the ordinance only allows for 600 square foot greenhouses.

The property currently contains a farmhouse built in the 1800s, which is unoccupied, as well as a significant amount of land. Clayton was once a caretaker for the property when it was used as a summer home, and was gifted the property by the former owners. He does not live on the property, but is seeking a way to manage the property while preserving its historic nature.

Clayton proposed growing plants native to New Hampshire both in a greenhouse and on the property. Instead of installing a retail space, Clayton plans to sell the majority of the plants wholesale to a landscaping company he has partnered with, as well as some of the plants from the property itself, with customers able to select plants which would be dug from the ground on site.

Clayton also outlined some educational goals for the property, to teach people about the importance of using native plantings, instead of foreign or invasive species.

The board finished deliberations on the case following a site walk at the property on Wednesday.

The board first determined that a variance to sell plants from the property was not needed. Nurseries are allowed by right in the Mountain Zone, and Clayton intends to sell only what is raised on the property.

Chair Lee Sawyer said the Mountain Zone doesn’t allow most commercial retail, but does allow agricultural uses and farmstands if a certain percentage of the produce sold is grown on site.

“He’s talking about 100%,” Sawyer said. “He falls well within it.”

The board also agreed – though not unanimously – to approve Clayton’s request for a larger-than-allowed greenhouse.

The town’s ordinance allows greenhouses up to 600 square feet in the Mountain Zone, and Clayton requested permission to construct one up to 1,200 square feet for use in his nursery business.

The board went back and forth on the issue, with some board members saying the larger size was reasonable for the proposed use, and that a 600 square foot greenhouse was more conducive to a “hobby” greenhouse. The board also went back and forth on whether the ordinance, as written, would allow the construction of more than one 600 square foot greenhouse, which would allow Clayton to build two greenhouses at a higher expense, with no discernable advantage from a zoning perspective.

Ultimately, the majority of the board agreed to grant the variance, with one dissenter.

The board heard feedback from several neighbors and townspeople on the proposal. Sawyer said the feedback was “very much so” in favor of the nursery concept, though the board heard several concerns about future uses of the property if commercial sales were allowed.

“There were people concerned about ‘what if, what if’ in the future. None of us can look into tomorrow, but if he wants to go beyond those parameters, he or the next owner, would have to come back to change that request,” Sawyer said.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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