Lanesborough Planners Mull Aerial Park Permits

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The owners of Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort raised multiple questions on Monday with a proposed zoning amendment that would allow an aerial adventure park right down the road from them.

Feronia Holdings LLC is planning the creation of a seven-acre outdoor adventure park that includes hiking trails, zip lines and ropes courses off Brodie Mountain Road. The Planning Board had already proposed changes that would exclude their business from current zoning and the Board of Selectmen offered to present an amendment allowing the company to open via special permit at a special town meeting.

"The proposal is not for by-right use. It is for a special permit. ... They wanted it to be a special permit process. This is their form," interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg said.

At a public hearing on Monday, Jiminy Peak's attorney Adam Filson picked at the proposed change citing lack of definition of the various aspects of the law. Residents and Planning Board members also fiddled with language that would eliminate motorized vehicles, fearing a future of dirt bike tracks like one that landed the town in hot water recently.

Specifically, Filson argued that the proposal is too open ended because there is no clear definition of an "outdoor adventure recreation facility." The proposal defines it as "land, buildings, improvements, facilities and related appurtenances, including challenge course elements, zip lines, rope course elements, canopy walk elements, hiking trails or biking trails to be used to support outdoor recreational adventure activities, team building exercises and/or adventure games occurring at the facility."

The definition does not limit uses to only those listed but rather includes them — meaning another proposal could argue their use is outdoor adventure, too. Additionally, town planners were concerned with a separate bylaw that provides a height requirement for structures. The 35-foot height limit lists various items — such as wind turbines and towers — that are acceptable but structures for aerial courses are not included.

The Planning Board also considered adding language that would disallow motorized vehicles. However, Jiminy owner Brian Fairbank said that at their course, staff use motorized vehicles for many purposes and they have a zip line ride that is motorized and could be considered a vehicle.

The zoning change would not be specifically for the site of Feronia's park but for the entire zone, which also includes parts of Route 8 and the east side of Route 7 — from Bull Hill Road north. The Planning Board will continue to work on the language before the proposal goes to a special town meeting.

The proposal does require a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals and planners are also considering what powers that board will have over the various plans.

Representatives from Feronia did not attend the meeting.

Tags: adventure park,   mountain resorts,   outdoor adventure,   zoning,   

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