Bakery proposed for North Main Street

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ipswich bakery application
"For rent" signs are still in the windows but a baker has her eye on the property.

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IPSWICH — Owners of a Gloucester-based bakery are looking to move their operations to Ipswich.

At a hearing before the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) on Thursday, Susanne Young and Molly Friedman outlined their desire to rent the space formerly occupied by architect David Mehlin in the Odd Fellows building beside the library.

He retired at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, landlord Paul de Ronde told the hearing.

Young said she has owned and operated the Sandpiper Bakery in Gloucester for the last eight years. Prior to that, she ran a bakery in Boston for three years, she said.

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Both she and Friedman are Ipswich residents and they have been looking for a location in town for three years, Young said.

However, retail use is not permitted in the location, which is in the in-town residential district. There was one letter of opposition from a local neighbor, according to ZBA chairman Bob Gambale.

Young applied for a variance from local zoning, but ZBA member Ben Fierro noted that those are usually for exceptions to dimensional requirements. Young is asking for a variance to use, he said, adding, “It’s a huge hurdle to overcome.”

Mehlin’s architectural office occupied the space for 18 years, and there was another service-based business there before him, the hearing was told.

The last retail business in the space was Savory’s Drug Store, which closed in the 1960s, according to Historic Ipswich. Fierro said if non-conforming uses are abandoned for more than two years, their ability to resume is lost.

Gambale asked about the nature of the bakery and whether there would be any onsite dining.

Young said she would like some chairs or stools for people, but noted that restaurants have shifted to take-out and curbside pickup.

In addition to living in Ipswich, she said she has heard from the community that residents want a bakery and pastry shop.

Gambale said his opinion was that Young should apply for a special permit for take-out only.

Special permit applicants must show that the “benefit to the town outweighs the adverse effects of the proposed use,” according to the zoning bylaw.

In granting a special permit, zoning says the ZBA must look at “social, economic, or community needs which are served by the proposal,” the potential fiscal impact to the town, “traffic flow and safety, including parking, loading,” the adequacy of utilities and services, the “compatibility with neighborhood character,” and impacts on the built and natural environment.

The hearing on the variance was continued until the August meeting, while Young indicated she may apply for a special permit.

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