Emily Springer, owner of Meeting House Farm on 35 Hunnewell Road. Catherine Bart photo

SCARBOROUGH — Meeting House Farm, located at 35 Hunnewell Road, received approval from the Scarborough Zoning Board of Appeals to conduct online business at the property with several conditions.

Located on historic property that dates back to the 1700s, the farm is owned by Emily and Scott Springer, who started Meeting House Farm in 2017, said its website. Over 80 different medicinal herbs are grown on 2.5 acres as well as a garden of vegetables.

The property is within Scarborough’s Residential District R-2. The town’s zoning ordinance says that commercial agriculture is only permitted within an R-2 zone if a property owner applies for a special exception use.

Meeting House Farm owners Emily and Scott Springer applied for a special exception use appeal earlier this year with the request of continuing the farm’s online business, hosting small classes on the property and setting up a farm stand. After the Zoning Board of Appeals denied this request, the Springers returned to the board on Aug. 11 with a modified proposal.

“I have a very, very small business,” Emily Springer said. “We base that business on what we grow and then selling the extras, selling the extra vegetables, selling extra flowers, and what we’re growing for our family is primary, and what we’re selling is extra. We consume over 50 percent of what we grow today.”

A number of the farm’s neighbors spoke in support of the Springers and their farm.

Heidi Seely, who said she lives near the property, said she believes Meeting House Farm is a beneficial addition to the neighborhood.

“I think it’s important as members of this community that we want to encourage small businesses,” she said. “I think it’s great she’s doing what she’s doing, and it’s disappointing to see that some of my neighbors are so opposed to this.”

Jennifer Cleary, a neighbor, said she had concerns about traffic and the town’s ability to enforce Meeting House Farm’s compliance, especially after the owners had scaled back their original plans for public events and a farm stand.

“Hunnewell Hill is one of the fewest in the entire neighborhood that does not have a sidewalk,” she said.

Conditions that the board listed for the Springers to follow under the special exception use include the limit of no more than five vehicles in the driveway, none in the street, and only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sales must be conducted online and a physical exchange must take place off the premise, and no public classes or events are allowed.

Meeting House Farm is well-known, and neighbors will most likely let the town know if rules are not followed, said James Hebert, chair of the board.

“There’s enough attention on this property that should, if they try to upscale it or go beyond any kind of restrictions that the board would put on this property, someone would tell the town, and enforcement would take place,” he said.

Hebert said the Springers should work with neighbors.

“Given the amount of concern that some abutters have raised with respect to your business, should the board approve this application, going forward, I think it would be very important to try to work with them as best as you can, knowing that this is a really hot-button item for a lot of folks who are here right now, whether or not the board votes yes or no on this application,” he said.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the appeal.

On Meeting House Farm’s public Facebook page, Emily Springer shared a message of gratitude for those who supported the appeal.

“It was so validating to see that people care and do want small farms in their neighborhood,” she said. “We won the right to farm our land. We would not have won without so much support. I am filled with gratitude.”

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