Lanesborough OKs Bylaw For Aerial Adventure Parks

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The special town meeting saw about 10 voters, other than the Selectmen and Planning Board, and took only 18 minutes.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — With a unanimous vote at town meeting, the zoning is in place for an aerial adventure park on Brodie Mountain Road and developers are already hoping to start construction in the summer.

Feronia Forests LLC, formerly Feronia Holdings, has been working with the town for nearly a year to bring in an adventure park. However, zoning bylaws prohibited them from opening on Brodie Mountain Road so the town crafted new bylaws to allow the company to move forward.

Those bylaws were approved at a special town meeting Tuesday.

The special town meeting was paid for by Feronia and the new bylaw is supported by the Board of Selectmen.

The bylaw allows any aerial adventure park to open in the limited business zone with a special permit. The law does require a minimum lot size of 10 acres and that 75 percent of the aerial elements be attached to natural features, not to utility poles or other manmade structures.

The developers are set to move forward with the design phase while they wait until for the attorney general's office to approve the new zoning, which could take up to 90 days, and then go through local permitting. They hope to start building in the summer and open for the fall.

Jonathan Sabin, who represents Feronia, said the group could "realistically" receive a special permit to build and open the park in July as long as there are no hitches.

Feronia is partnering with East Chatham, N.Y.-based Tree-Mendous Parks, which constructed a safari park at the San Diego Zoo, to build what they call a "social and economically friendly" park. Tree-Mendous owner Gerhard Komenda said the attractions will be attached to existing trees without drilling and that trucks will not be driven onto the course to prevent tree damage. The platforms will be made from native woods, he said.

"We will need about four months to build," Komenda said, adding that the construction will take longer because the workers will hike to the site.

Komenda will also be responsible in training the employees before the opening. He hopes the park can eventually be used for nature walks or teaching children how to climb.

"Ours is more of an environmental, educational thing. Eventually we want to develop this into a place where other activities can take place," he said.

Feronia owner Paolo Cugnasca said the full plan includes an office, gift shop and small parking lot at the base; customers will hike up a trail to reach the park itself.

In other business, voters approved regulating "secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers." The regulations were put forth by the Police Department and forces secondhand dealers — such as places that buy jewelry — to photocopy the seller's identification and the merchandise as well as hold the items in house for 15 days.

"If they don't follow the regulations, they would have to pay the fines," Police Chief Mark Bashera said in explaining the law.

Bashera said police have caught thieves "countless" times by looking at pawnbrokers' records. However, there are some who do not keep very good records and sometimes the items are shipped out of state and melted in just a few days after the sale. This law will now allow police to track stolen items easier.

Voters also approved increasing the fee to $30 for every demand letter the tax collector writes. Demand letters are written when taxes are not paid on time and this move will cover the costs of those efforts. Town Administrator Paul Sieloff said that the increase could translate to about $8,000 per year in revenue to the town's budget as well as encourage taxpayers to pay on time.

Editor's Note: The aerial park is being built near the wind farm access road off Brodie Mountain Road in Lanesborough. There were stories reported in other media about a week after this meeting that used illustrations implying the old Brodie Ski Area was the site of the new park. That is incorrect. The ski area is in New Ashford.

Tags: adventure park,   ropes course,   special town meeting,   zoning,   

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