WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Zoning Board of Appeals has unanimously approved the withdrawal of a special permit application for camping during the "Destination 2012: Hogs on the Farm" motorcycle rally.
Charles "Rusty" Ransford, president of the Snowford Foundation, which was organizing the controversial event until recently, was allowed to request the petition be withdrawn without prejudice at the Zoning Board meeting Thursday night.
Andrew Hoar, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said that Town Counsel Joel Bard had originally advised that the Snowford Foundation needed the special permit because the event was a "commercial activity for which an admission fee would be charged."
Since then, the Snowford Foundation has withdrawn its support for the three-day event, which was scheduled for Aug. 17-19 at 941 Hopper Road.
The property is owned by Hopper Road Nominee Trust, of which Ransford is a trustee.
In a July 10 Transcript article, Ransford clarified that while support had been withdrawn, the event hadn’t been canceled.
"What I’ll end up doing is because the event has been advertised, and people will be coming here from a long ways away, they’ll be invited guests, and there will be no charge," he said in the article.
Town Manager Peter Fohlin was also quoted in the article telling the Selectmen that Ransford had told him that he had canceled arrangements with six bands and several vendors
Ransford said Thursday night that there may be a few people who come not knowing the status of the event.
"I expect there may be as few as 10 or 12, or maybe as many as a couple hundred," he said.
Hoar said that since an admission fee now won’t be charged, Bard had advised that a special permit for camping wasn’t needed.
"If there will be no admission fee, then it will not be a commercial activity, and it would be my opinion that a special permit is not required," Bard said in a email, which Hoar read aloud at the meeting.
The Zoning Board’s decision to accept Ransford’s withdrawal of the petition didn’t settle well with some residents who were among the approximately 20 people in attendance at the meeting.
Former Town Manager Robert Janes, a resident of Hopper Road, asked the board to accept the withdrawal with prejudice.
Hoar said that he didn’t recall the board ever taking such an action, and it would imply that the petition was denied.
Town Planner Andrew Groff said after the meeting that allowing someone to withdraw a petition without prejudice means that the withdrawal won’t adversely impact the person’s rights to submit a petition again for future, similar uses. By denying a petition, they can’t submit a similar petition for two years, he said.
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