FORT ANN — Supporters and opponents of a proposed motocross track used the same palette to paint starkly different pictures of the results of the construction of a 4,300-foot-long motocross track at the site of Country Meadows Golf Course on Monday night.
Those who oppose the track, particularly neighbors, spoke of constant noise, dust, traffic and an immediate drop in their property values.
Those who support the track, and there appeared to be equal numbers in the crowd of 100 people, talked about motocross as a family sport that will bring visitors and revenue to the town and is simply part of the growth of Fort Ann.
Monday’s debate, which took place at a Town Board meeting that was moved to the Fort Ann Central School auditorium because of the crowd, did not advance the proposal by Jeremy Treadway of Ticonderoga, who has an option on the site and would like to start work at the 106-acre parcel this summer.
The meeting did not delay the project, either.
Town Supervisor Richard Moore, who kept the discussion civil and polite, agreed to hear those with comments, even though the Town Board has no decision-making authority on Planning Board decisions.
Many of the same points will be brought up again at 7 p.m. June 27, when the Planning Board meets, also at the high school, to discuss the site plan.
Fort Ann does not having zoning, so the track is an allowable use so long as Treadway follows the proper application process. That was the same issue that came up in the now-approved Dollar General store project on Route 149.
On Monday, several residents did bring up a town law that instructs the Planning Board to consider possible “nuisances” in an application, including “noise, glare and unsightliness.”
Others pointed out that the town was considering a noise ordinance even before the track was proposed.
Several residents asked whether there could be a referendum on the project.
As several of the early speakers addressed the room, there were murmurings and comments from the crowd, but Moore quickly put a stop to that.
As the meeting went on, there were some harsh comments, but there were also some conciliatory ones.
“This has been a really exceptional meeting,” resident Roy Harrison said. “The board really put up with us, and I think the people here deserve accolades as well.”
Treadway and his attorney, John Lapper, were among the final speakers during the 75-minute session that followed a one-hour regular board meeting.
Lapper said he expects there will need to be discussion about what Treadway can do to mitigate the issues that concern neighbors.
“We are going to have to talk about what we can do,” Lapper said. “But we think some of their concerns are overblown.”
Treadway answered several of the issues that had been brought up and said he, too, was pleased with the way the meeting had gone.
“I want to have open lines of communication,” he said. “This has been a great meeting. It has been professional, and that’s awesome.
“I want people to know that this track is going to be run professionally, and I am going to be on site 24/7,” said Treadway, who will be living in a house at the course.
In responding to issues that had come up during the discussion, Treadway said he will hire private EMS crews and will also help fund the town’s EMS in case those crews are needed.
One of the biggest issues was noise.
“Constant noise will not be an issue because people simply cannot ride all day,” he said.
A number of residents and other motorcycle enthusiasts spoke in favor of the track, including Tom McDermott, who established McDermott’s Harley-Davidson in Fort Ann.
“It’s a growing sport that lets the family get together and keeps children out of mischief,” he said. “We need to talk about this. Discussion gets you more than arguments. But the noise only bothers you if you let it. You just don’t hear it after a while.”
At least half of those in the audience didn’t see it that way.
“Our quality of life will go down the drain,” said Ruth Cartier, who lives on Cartier Lane, across Route 149 from the golf course. “We are retired and don’t go anywhere. We enjoy our home.”
Ralph Cole, who lives on Route 149, said he didn’t think the proposal should even be discussed.
“I think this should have been rejected out of hand,” he said, noting the golf course’s eastern border part of the Adirondack Park. “It’s like putting a slaughterhouse next to a kindergarten or a fireworks factory next to a cemetery. It would be a tragedy to put a motocross track there.
“It will unlivable for us and will make our homes unsaleable to anyone who is sane,” he added.
Joy Keithline, who is originally from New York City and who is a part-time resident whose partner lives at their Fort Ann home full-time, summed up the noise issue and other concerns.
“I am from the city. I am used to the noise, but the beauty here is that there is no noise. This is where I want to come when I retire,” she said. “This feels like a done deal, and I hope it’s not a done deal.”
Seeing both sides
Ian Liebmann, who runs Monster Performance, which specializes in suspension services and products for snowmobiles, motocross and ATVs, said the track would be good for his business and good for his town, but noted there needs to be balance.
“I don’t want Mr. Treadway to be run out of town without due process, but the people need due process, too,” Liebmann said. “There are excellent points on both sides. It would be good for the town of Fort Ann, but it would be bad for the people who live near the track.”
Dave Sartell of Hudson Falls, who works at progressive Motorsports, was one of several non-residents to speak.
“There needs to be a mutual respect,” he said. “At the end of all of this, you will still be neighbors.”