GILFORD — After months of discussion and negotiations with neighbors and various planning officials, the Planning Board approved last night an application for Arbo Ministries, Inc. to run a ministry from their Curtis Road home.
The conditions placed by the board include a provision that this permit, although issued to Arbo Ministries, Inc. is to be used by the corporation principals Barbara and Steve Arbo.
The Arbos can have overnight guests as long as it is not part of the ministry unless there are extraordinary circumstances like a snow storm or other event. Their attorney Pat Wood said they have no intention of running a guest house but occasionally they will have friends and family who will spend the night.
They agreed there will be no outdoor bells, camping, tents, or sound amplification and that any ministerial outdoor activities shall cease by 11 p.m.
The site plan limits the parking to 12 cars other than those in garages and the Arbos have said they plan on using the Curtis Road driveway as an entrance and the Route 11A driveway as an exit. Excluding family, the Arbos may have no more than 35 people on the property at any given time.
The ministry is not a church, said Planning Board member Norm Silber, who was initially of the opinion that the Arbos, by applying for a home-based business, were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
He said his original thinking was that a church was something open to all however one of the stipulations of the Arbos' ministry is that only people who are invited can be on the property.
He said after the site visit last week, he was convinced that their plan was acceptable for the site.
Member Jerry Gagnon still had a few issues with exiting on to Route 11A and said that he would like it if they took one layer off from the brick wall in front of the home to help visibility.
Other members, including Chair John Morgenstern,said that wasn't necessary and Gagnon voted for the site plan approval without any changes to the brick wall.
The Arbos also agreed that they would maintain all of the natural buffers on the land and would not alter any of the structures on the land.
About seven people attended last night's meeting, down from a packed house when the Arbos first made their application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a special exception to operate a church.
Only one neighbor spoke and she said that she was very happy with the way the Arbos had reached out to the neighbors and was in favor of them having their ministry.
The site plan is contingent on Arbo Ministries satisfying all other local, state, and federal rules and regulations. Wood said last night that Arbo Ministries would be withdrawing their application to the ZBA for a special exception.
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