This is one of two cases involving two separate appeals from a decision of the Town of Sherborns Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) regarding certain activities at Sweet Meadow Farm in Sherborn (Decision). In this case, the owners and operators of Sweet Meadow Farm appealed the portion of the Decision finding that the operation of an animal feed business at Sweet Meadow Farm is not allowed. [Note 1]
This case was filed on October 16, 2009, by John A. Knapp, Jr., Katherine Knapp, Albert Michaud and Patricia Michaud d/b/a Sweet Meadow Farm (Sweet Meadow Farm). Jennifer Hawkins is a named Defendant in this case because she was one of the petitioners before the ZBA (where she sought to have the animal feed business and farm stand shut down), and G. L. 40A, § 17 requires that she be named along with the members of the ZBA. In its complaint, Sweet Meadow Farm challenges the portion of the Decision invalidating its operation of an animal feed business at the Farm. The ZBA concluded that that ZEO should not have refused Hawkins request for enforcement because the animal feed business did not constitute a protected agricultural use under either the Town Zoning By-Laws or G. L. c. 40A, § 3. Finding Sweet Meadow Farm in violation of the By-Laws, the ZBA voted unanimously to issue a cease and desist order for certain activities of the animal feed business.
All parties assented to the transfer of this case to the Land Court. On April 7, 2010, Judge Scheier was assigned by the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court to sit in the Superior Court Department for the purpose of hearing this case in conjunction with the Land Court Case.
A two-day trial was held on July 25 and 26, 2012. A decision of todays date has issued, in both cases. In accordance with that decision, it is hereby:
ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that the ZBAs decision to issue a cease and desist order for certain activities of the animal feed business, based on its interpretations of G. L. c. 40A, § 3 and Zoning By-laws § 3.4, is overturned as it is based on legally untenable grounds. It is further
ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that the animal feed business falls under the protections afforded agricultural uses under G. L. c. 40A, § 3.
[Note 1] The second related case was filed in the Land Court Department, 09 MISC 414330 (KFS).