A Planning Board hearing on the long-controversial Rockville Ridge ATV Park Wednesday drew only a handful of speakers-including Pam and Paul Tichy, who are seeking a special use permit to open the facility behind their Route 20, Sharon Springs home.
Before opening the hearing, Planning Board Chairman Ray Parsons said no decision would be made that night; the hearing will be left open until January 15.
The proposed project's Environmental Impact Statement calls for allowing hiking trails, outdoor games like baseball and soccer, recreational vehicles, ATVs, dirt bikes, and golf carts on 21.5 acres the Tichys own behind their home.
The seasonal park would be limited to 150 riders at a time and would operate during daylight hours.
Since the park was first proposed more than two years ago, neighbors have expressed concerns about noise, dust, and traffic.
Ms. Tichy said Wednesday that they've addressed all of those concerns.
Tests have demonstrated noise won't be a problem, she said, and state law strictly regulates things like mufflers, vehicle registration, and dust.
"I've lived here my whole life," she said. "It's my backyard. I'm not going to do something that would hurt the community."
Ms. Tichy also said they already know who their customers are and where they come from; most aren't locally and will be buying things like gas and food while they're in Sharon.
"It's a safe, legal location," she added.
Peter Van Deusen, who owns and operates a Bed & Breakfast on Route 10, said he's in favor of the project.
"I think this board [Planning Board] lives and breathes to increase the tax base in this town," he said, "or we're done. And the first thing you're going to lose is the school..."
Richard Pfau, who lives directly across Route 20 from the Tichys, disagreed.
"It seems the issue here is the rights of property owners," he said, and the Tichys' plans contradict existing land use.
Yvonne Gardner, one of the owners of Clausen Ridge, neighbors to both the Tichys and the Pfaus, said she is also opposed to the project.
Ms. Gardner and her partner, Susan Dost, hope to turn Clausen Ridge into an upscale spa with a "very serene environment."
Ms. Gardner said she has a high regard for people with their own businesses, "but it's hard to imagine "a muffler that will dampen the noise" of what's proposed.
With Rockville Ridge across the road and the possibility of hydrofracking hanging over the community "it's hard to imagine investing a substantial amount of money" in Clausen Ridge, she added.
Bill Barbic, who lives on Route 10 and would also be a neighbor to Rockville Ridge, said he's also concerned about dust and noise.
"Not to beat a dead horse," he said, "but if it's permitted, it needs to be a strict permit."
Mr. Barbic said he knows of a go-kart track that was turned into a modified race car track after owners leased it to someone else. "It needs to be bullet-proof," he said of any permit.
Comments on the proposal will be accepted till January 15.