Hounded on High Street

The Ipswich Zoning Board of Appeals has received a request for a variance from local zoning at 236 High Street.

It’s a residential area, but the prospective new owner wants to operate a business.

I hope the ZBA doesn’t move too quickly to approve this request, because numerous types of businesses could go in at this address and make a more positive impact on the neighborhood.

For example, one neighbor suggested to the ZBA that the proposed new business might alter the “quiet and peaceful” nature of the area. Another predicted the new business would be a “noise nuisance.”

So of course the ZBA should opt for something quieter. The Ipswich Fish and Game Association could relocate from Paradise Road. A shooting range does involve occasional sudden decibel spikes, but at least it wouldn’t be constant and uncontrollable.

On the other hand, I understand there’s a business in Saugus looking for a new home — a place that tests those beep-beep-beep units that tell you a piece of heavy equipment is backing up. It’s possible, of course, that neighbors might hear the beep-beep-beeping, but the rhythmic predictability of the beep-beep-beeping would be preferable to what’s currently proposed.

Or, the property could be used as a practice facility for rock bands. It would be noise, but at least it would be music. Ipswich supports the arts.

Neighbors of 236 High Street are not just concerned about noise, however. The ZBA variance application indicates that the new business would be hiring a service called Poop 911. The business name itself implies an excretion emergency, and a significant potential olfactory impact on the neighborhood.

It’s a fact of life that #2 doesn’t wait to smell bad; it smells bad right away. Then there’s the seldom-referenced poop-quantity law of physics: More poop smells worse quicker. (And if the business owner has to call for feces-expertise every day, it’s no longer an emergency, more like a way of life.)

But other, better choices could be made. This property could become an expansion campus of our Transfer Station. We wouldn’t replicate everything currently dumped at the Town Farm Road facility; just the compost. To keep the High Street neighborhood smelling sweeter than it would under the present proposal.

Another possibility would be a petting zoo, with an emphasis on species under-represented in traditional petting zoos. Skunks never get enough attention, and skunk-breeders find it difficult to situate their facilities in other towns; but in our town, a skunk-breeding operation would be welcome because of the alternative we’d be avoiding.

It’s possible, however, that the ZBA will okay the proposed variance as-is. In such a case, the neighborhood will simply have to accept change. Of course, the Clam Box will be gone soon, long outdoor lines of patrons felled by the deadly stench wafting westward from two doors down. But no great loss, since there won’t be many clams to fry anyway. The clam beds will be closed due to a fecal bacteria surge in the groundwater runoff. 

As Shakespeare wrote:

Such noise comes from the front of man’s best friend!
Yet naught more foul than comes from best friend’s end.

Not William Shakespeare; his cousin Larry Shakespeare, from Woofferton.

(Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where the skunks and the antelope roam. Sniff him out at DougBrendel.com.)

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