Adams Farm is aiming to create two paintball courses over two-and-a-half acres of land, each approximately 80 feet wide, and 450-500 feet, and 600-650 feet long, respectively. According to the farm’s application agent James Knabe, the farm had at one time acquired a permit for the same use, but it expired after the farm didn’t install the course. “It would be something else to do in the valley,” said Knabe. “A number of people have asked for this to be built, and we’ve had significant interest. It would be a fun thing for families to do.”
Knabe said the proposed course would be on a hillside, and feature forts and obstacles made up of brush, lumber, boulders, and old tires. Adams Farm would rent out guns, CO2, and would only allow participants to use paintballs sold by the farm, which Knabe said are less toxic, and water soluble. The farm plans to use referees as well to monitor safety and rules, and will require specific guidelines for velocity levels on guns depending on the user’s age. The courses would be open seven days a week, depending on weather, during warm months, with two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The course would be surrounded by the farm’s electric fencing, and set back in the woods out of sight of any surrounding properties.
Knabe said that noise should not be an issue as the sound from a paintball gun is less than that of a cap gun, and the course is nearly 4,000 feet away from the nearest neighbors.
Some neighbors in attendance expressed their dissatisfaction with the idea of a nearby paintball course. “I’m very upset about this, and quite frankly appalled,” said Beth Leggiere, who lives on Route 100 North, and has a view of the farm from her residence. “We watched as they built their slaughterhouse and there was nothing we could do about it but it degrades the value of our property and we have no desire to see a paintball course. I don’t believe it will be noise-free. I’m also concerned about when leaves fall off the trees what we’ll be able to see. It doesn’t keep with the pastoral way the farm has been in the past. We’re concerned what will happen to our view. We already get to see their lovely slaughterhouse out our kitchen window.”
Leggiere also expressed concerns about people shooting paintballs at road signs, and drinking before playing. Knabe explained that there is an orientation before each round of paintball, and the farm would be responsible for making sure intoxicated patrons would not be allowed on the course. Knabe also said that where the course is located is not visible “from anywhere,” to which Leggiere disagreed. “Have you been in my kitchen or on my porch?” said Leggiere.
Another neighbor, Bob Westlake, said that it was important to the valley to keep Adams Farm prosperous, but he was concerned about the danger the course may pose to wildlife as well as surrounding farms and their animals. Westlake also said that he wanted to see a map in the application, so he could better understand the course’s proximity to surrounding property lines.
The farm has, according to Knabe, obtained a conditional Act 250 permit, which he expects will arrive by May 27.
Neighbor Dario Lussardi said that his concern was the management of the course. “I support the farm’s endeavor to be sustainable over the course of a year,” said Lussardi. “This potentially may not be an awful thing, but the question is how consistent oversight is, having a bunch of people come up in camouflage and have a war mentality and have a war in the woods. That may be, but the management of it is important.”
Neighbor Steve Adams spoke in support of the project. “There are times when I can hear the things that happen at the farm if the wind blows the right way,” said Adams. “But it doesn’t concern me. I can hear a lot of other activities from neighbors across the street and up and down the valley. It’s a good opportunity to see the valley have another activity in the area and it the only way to see what works in the valley is if we try new things. The Adams Farm are taxpayers too, and I’ve seen generations of my family struggle with that piece of property and figure out what the heck to do with it and pay the tax bill over the next six months. If they put a dirt bike track there it would be a perfect spot for it but it would put a lot of noise there, too. This seems to be a decent project without a lot of noise element to it.”
While the DRB decided to recess the meeting until Knabe could provide a more accurate, detailed map of the proposed course location, another case heard earlier in the evening was closed. Isabelle Alvarado is the owner of 20 West Main Street (the former Fennessy’s), and is in the process of renovating the property. Alvarado’s plans include fixing a rear deck and converting it into a handicap entrance, moving stairs on a side deck for better customer flow, and building a boardwalk to mirror a boardwalk on the other side of a driveway, which leads to the West Main Street parking lot.
While no qualms were expressed by the board over these items, or the installation of new windows and doors, town manager Scott Murphy submitted a letter to the board expressing the town’s concerns with the construction of another boardwalk.
“The town feels this boardwalk will drastically constrain vehicle flow, and create a safety hazard,” read the letter. Another concern of the town’s was the proposed boardwalk’s effect on plowing efforts.
Alvarado said that the distance between the two boardwalks would be 19 feet, and hers would not exceed the current grass line along the side of the building. Alvarado also said that the town does not plow snow against the buildings, but rather, pushes the snow straight back into the parking lot to the rear of the buildings. The planned boardwalk would also be sunk into the ground, according to Alvarado.
Alvarado also said she would be open to a suggestion from DRB member Wendy Manners who asked her to consider working with the town to find a common solution, or wait until plans for new sidewalks came to fruition.