Wilmington paintball course upsets neighbors


WILMINGTON -- A proposed project that would bring paintball to the area will require another look from the Development Review Board after it drew a considerable amount of scrutiny during a hearing on May 19.

"It's something else to do in the valley. We had a number of people ask for this to be built, especially families," said James Knabe, an employee of Adams Farm, where the project is proposed. He represented the applicants, Tina Cullen and Chris Adams.

The hearing was recessed so the board could receive more information and a more detailed map. Approximately eight people were sworn in as interested parties.

Neighbors to the farm came out to voice their opposition to the project located at 15 Higley Hill Road. They were concerned about noise levels, the safety of animals as well as participants and the possible drinking of alcohol before the activity.

In general, the neighbors did not believe the map submitted to the board as an exhibit was drawn to scale.

The farm was recently approved by the state for operating a slaughterhouse. The new operations are part of an effort of the owners, Cullen and Adams, to keep the farm under family ownership.

"The main bread and butter's going to be the slaughtering of the animals for food and selling the food. They can't do anything on this farm that's going to affect (that)," said Knabe.

Adams Farm had previously obtained a local permit for paintball that expired. A new Act 250 permit was on its way with conditions imposed on the project. Knabe expected to receive it on May 27.

He said Cullen and Adams want to create two paintball courses behind the buildings and the animal pens.

"As you go uphill, it's all ledge, big boulders and stuff. Trees will be cut that fell down. We'd use that to create the course," added Knabe.

If approved, old tires from tractors, shrub and brush would also riddle the course. There would be two sessions each day it is open and all of the sessions would be supervised in order to meet insurance requirements.

Knabe mentioned that Stratton Mountain currently offers paintball at its South Bowl face and there were others located in the county but not in the Deerfield Valley. He said there was talk of starting up a league similar to the volleyball league that competes at the Sitzmark in Wilmington.

Beth Jennings Leggiere, who lives on Route 100 in front of the farm, told the board that her family watched as the slaughterhouse was built. She operates a knitting business next to the house.

"I know there was nothing we could do. It degrades the value of our property," she said. "We have no desire to have a paintball course. I do not believe it will be noise free."

When the farm had a corn maze up to the public, Leggiere said she could hear any conversations occurring in it. She also spoke of seeing signs hit by paintballs near courses in upstate New York, where she had once lived.

"I've seen generations of my family struggle with that piece of property to figure out what to do to pay the tax bill for the next six months," said Steve Adams, also a neighbor. "I think it's a good opportunity for the valley to have a new activity in the area."

Another neighbor, Dario Lussardi, asked about how the activity would be monitored and how it would be ensured that no participants were under the influence.

"So some more information would be useful for me. But the Adams have been great neighbors," he said.

On June 6, the board will meet again and address this application.

"I think it's important to give you the chance to be really clear," said DRB Chairman Peter Wallace.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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