SANDWICH — The Sandwich Creamery has long been enticing ice cream fans with the promise of adventure and discovery. The traffic that the sweet treats have drawn has been a point of conflict between the business and some of the neighbors for some time, but recent actions by a couple of residents have escalated the conflict into a confrontation.
“The rumors of delicious ice cream inspire the adventurous to brave the endless back roads in search of the Sandwich Creamery,” reads the “About Us” section on the creamery’s website. “ . . . people arrive at the tiny creamery to find a peaceful spot that is well worth the drive.”
To find the creamery, those ice cream seekers must travel down Route 113A, a rural highway, turn off onto one dirt road, and then find the intersection with Hannah Road, another dirt road.
However, some of the other residents on Hannah Road have grown cold over the traffic that their otherwise secluded road attracts.
Rebecca Upham, William Babcock Viner and Michael Woodaman filed suit in Carroll County Superior Court in March of this year, requesting a reversal of a Planning Board decision that allowed the creamery to add a second parking lot for customers.
The plaintiffs, in their complaint, cited “wear and tear on the private road, creating noise, causing copious amounts of dust and dirt to be deposited on their property (including on bushes planted along the roadway to block the noise and dust, and which dust appears to be killing the bushes), litter, and the like. Plaintiffs Viner and Upham are directly affected, negatively impacted, and aggrieved by the creamery and its customers, and therefore have standing to bring this complaint.”
Viner and Upham, abutters to the creamery, did not return phone messages for comment.
Attempts to reach the other plaintiff, Michael Woodaman, were also unsuccessful because the phone number listed for his home rang busy despite several attempts. However, he had already found a way to make his feelings known.
On Monday of this week, The Sandwich Creamery posted a photo to its Facebook page. The photo showed three signs on a tree at the intersection of Wing and Hannah roads. The signs read, “Private Road Residents Only,” “Please Keep Out,” and “Buy Your Icecream Elsewhere.”
“We ARE open. These are NOT our signs. We’re sorry for the negativity. Please drive slowly and respect the road,” The Creamery posted as a caption for the photo.
By Wednesday morning, the signs had been altered with black spray paint so as to obscure the unwelcoming words. A similar sign, further down the road, had also been vandalized, but another one was unaltered, which read, “Not All Are Welcomed By All Only By A Select Few.”
Sandwich Police Chief Shawn Varney said the signs were the work of Woodaman, who owns the land where they are posted.
“Mike doesn’t like that at all, but there’s nothing Mike can do about that. It’s a roadway open to the public,” said Varney. He confirmed that the public is permitted to use the road, even though it’s a privately-owned road. He said it’s also legal for Woodaman to post signage on his property, however incorrect it might be. The only crime he knows of is the vandalism of the signs.
“It’s a freedom of speech thing,” said Varney, though he noted that “Mike is his own worst enemy.”
If Woodaman’s intent was to discourage patronage of the Creamery, he failed to do so. The Creamery’s post garnered more than 500 shares and 200 comments. “Buy my ice cream elsewhere? Nope. I can tell you where else where to put that sign, though,” wrote one customer, who also shared a photo of a recently-purchased pint.
Varney said that the road is owned and maintained by an association, and that the Creamery is known to cover more than its share of maintenance costs.
“Mike bought the place knowing that the creamery was there,” Varney said. “It’s childish, it’s been going on for years. You can’t regulate people going in and out of there.”
The Creamery owners declined an interview request, but provided a statement that noted that they’ve been in business for 26 years, and have operated in much the same way for each of those years.
“Recent negativity has been surprising and unfortunate because traffic levels are back to what they were pre-pandemic, before some of the neighbors even bought property on the road,” the statement said. “We continue to encourage the paper’s readers to the farmstand but encourage all customers to be respectful of neighbors and observe the rules of the road.”