BETHLEHEM — The Board of Selectmen discussed the monster truck track, the barbecue festival and made an appointment at its meeting on Tuesday, June 18.
Three residents came to the meeting to raise concerns with the monster truck driving business that has opened on 120 Crane Hollow Rd.
The business teaches people to drive a modified monster truck and allows them to drive on a quarter-mile track.
The residents raised concerns with the noise the trucks produce and the environmental impact of the course itself, as the monster trucks can drive over partially buried cars.
Selectman David Deakin, Jr., said he was informed of this at the last selectmen’s meeting.
“The three of us are not in favor of this,” Mr. Deakin said, though businesses do not need approval from the Board of Selectmen to begin in town.
One resident questioned what, if any, protections, regulations or processes the town has for such businesses, like zoning.
The town last voted on zoning on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. The town decided not to adopt zoning with 929 against zoning and 309 in favor of zoning.
Mr. Deakin said that without zoning, it is easier for businesses to start largely unannounced. He said that was not an excuse for why the monster truck driving business started, as zoning could not necessarily prevent unpopular businesses from opening in town.
“Obviously, we can’t solve this tonight and we are limited with the ordinances in place,” Selectman David Butkus, Jr., said.
He added the Inland Wetlands Agency and Land Use Coordinator Norma Carey were aware of the business.
Selectmen suggested Inland Wetlands might have some jurisdiction over the business and the Torrington Area Health District might have concerns over the noise.
Selectmen also suggested looking at the tax codes for the lot.
“There are certain routes where we can start putting the pressure on, but there are others that we’re not going to be able to do anything about,” Mr. Butkus said. “We’re limited in what we can do.”
Ms. Carey told Voices on Friday, June 21, that she conducted a site walk with a member of the Inland Wetlands Agency.
Ms. Carey said she is working on her report and it will be presented to the agency with her recommendations, likely at its next meeting on Tuesday, July 2. The agency will determine if the business would require an application or if any conditions need to be placed on it.
At the board meeting, selectmen discussed concerns with the Barbecue Festival that occurred on Saturday, June 15, at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds.
Mr. Deakin noted the concerns of some in attendance, including long lines, less food than anticipated, high cost and allegations of false advertising.
“This is not on you or the fairgrounds,” Mr. Deakin said. “We don’t want what happened up there on Saturday to affect the fair, the Garlic Festival, the Roaring ‘20s Car Show or the Firemen’s Car show.”
Mr. Butkus noted Chapter 114 in town ordinances, which gives the Board of Selectmen the authority to supervise special events in town for the protection of health, property, safety and welfare of the residents.
The board approved the special events permit at its meeting on Tuesday, June 4, subject to conditions by the resident state trooper.
First Selectman Leonard Assard told Voices on Friday, June 21, that under Chapter 114 the selectmen are responsible for ensuring there’s adequate parking, sewer and traffic control during the event. Mr. Assard said it is the responsibility of the applicant to fulfill the event as advertised.
Other than the initial special events permit approval, which is required for all special events in town, the Selectman’s Office does not get involved with the Bethlehem Fair Society or events at the fairgrounds, which is a private nonprofit. The Fair Society owns the fairgrounds.
“I think my concern is, is that ever since that ordinance was passed, I assumed that everything would be good on the fairgrounds, but now the heat’s coming [to the selectmen],” Mr. Butkus said, at the Board of Selectmen meeting.
Mike O’Neill, the president of the Bethlehem Fair Society, noted the official statement the Bethlehem Fair Society made via Facebook about the Barbecue Festival on Sunday, June 16.
The post said that the Bethlehem Fair Society and the Barbecue Festival are not related; the fair society just owns the property.
“Be assured we will be reviewing this event when considering future rentals of our grounds to this or similar promoters,” the Bethlehem Fair Society said.
Barbecue Festival organizers responded to concerns with a statement made on its Facebook page on June 16.
The post thanked those in attendance for coming, noted the fair society had nothing to do with the planning or promotion of the event and said anyone with pictures, comments or concerns may email email@example.com.
“Damage control is what we’re looking at, because we don’t want it to affect everything else that goes on up there,” Mr. Deakin said, at the meeting. “And we understand this has nothing to do with the fair association, other than you let [the applicant] have a space.”
“We’re trying to come up with a better way to vet people,” Mr. O’Neill said.
Resident Carol Ann Brown reminded those in attendance of the Board of Education nomination and vote at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at Woodbury Middle School, 67 Washington Ave.
Board of Education member John Chapman has resigned, effective on Sunday, June 30.
Mr. Chapman is a Woodbury resident and a Woodbury resident must fill his seat. The elected candidate will serve the remainder of Mr. Chapman’s term, which is one year.
“Bethlehem and Woodbury people elect the Woodbury representative, so it’s important we have some Bethlehem residents present as well,” Ms. Brown said.
She added that Bethlehem residents could nominate candidates, though candidates have to be from Woodbury.
The vote will be by paper ballot at the meeting.
Mr. Deakin added that the Public Works Department would wedge-cut sections of Munger Lane and Hard Hill Road North. The wedge cut-roads would then be chip-sealed.
In other news, the board unanimously approved Nancy Rahuba to the Long Meadow Lake Management Committee with a term ending in 2020.