Sunday May 13, 2012

Cricket Creek Farm, a family owned farm, is bringing three amendments to the Williams town zoning bylaws before the town meeting on May 15. One would allow farms to apply for a permit to host a limited number of weddings each year, the second would allow farms to apply for a permit to host small concerts, and the other would allow yoga classes, and art workshops.

The mission of Cricket Creek is to provide high-quality locally produced food, protect the land, and act as a valuable community resource. Over the last two decades, numerous farms have ceased to exist in Williamstown. It is becoming increasingly challenging to run an economically sustainable farm, and one of the keys to success is diversification. Our amendments would allow all Williamstown farms to add revenue streams while providing stimulus to the local economy as well as valuable cultural and recreational events.

Open space and working farms cannot be taken for granted. If we want these valuable community resources to remain, we must be proactive.

If these proposals pass in a 2/3 vote, farms would not automatically have the right to hold these celebrations and events. Each farm, individually, still must apply for a permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), whose job it is to carefully consider any neighborhood impacts. We believe strongly that a board of fellow citizens is best suited to evaluate each permit request on a case-by-case basis.

If one farm abuses their privileges, acts in a disrespectful or disruptive manner, they would not receive a permit in the future. A permit can also be revoked by the ZBA at any time. Voting YES at the Town Meeting merely opens the door to possibility, which is the first crucial step.

Please help maintain the diverse character of our community; support local farms. Please attend the town meet ing May 15 and vote in favor of all three amendments.

TOPHER SABOT

Williamstown

The writer is manager of Cricket Creek Farm, which is owned by the Sabot Family.