Neighborly disputes in the Town of Bethel

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 9/7/21

BETHEL, NY — A pair of neighborly disputes dominated discussion at the Bethel Town Board meeting on Wednesday, August 25.

The first involved noise complaints about the Yasgur Road …

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Neighborly disputes in the Town of Bethel

Posted

BETHEL, NY — A pair of neighborly disputes dominated discussion at the Bethel Town Board meeting on Wednesday, August 25.

The first involved noise complaints about the Yasgur Road Campgrounds.

Located at the Max Yasgur farm, land once part of the original Woodstock Festival, the campgrounds provide a permanent camping space, complete with a stage for musical performances, and a drum circle complete with rows of benches.

The campgrounds’ original business plan, hosted on the Sullivan County IDA website at www.bit.ly/3yJhdSJ, cited a tradition of 20-plus years of gatherings at the farm for three-day events celebrating the anniversary of Woodstock. Through the establishment of a permanent campground, the farm’s owners hoped to distribute the costs of that evenly throughout the rest of the season.

According to testimony offered at the August 25 board meeting, the noise of that event had also been distributed all season long.

Bethel resident Gary Alexander spoke before the board on behalf of himself and 25 neighbors, saying that the noise from the campground had become unbearable.

While the campground had a permit to play music until 2 a.m., the music often continued long past then, with some musical acts not even scheduled to start until 2 a.m. The noise from that music, and from the campground’s drum circle, was loud enough to shake the windows in his house and the houses of his neighbors, keeping them from sleeping.

“I’ve been very disturbed by what’s going on,” Alexander said.

Bethel supervisor Daniel Sturm agreed. “They’re supposed to take measures,” he said, measures that included curtailing their music at 2 a.m. and lowering the volume of that music earlier in the night.

The board outlined several courses of action that could be taken to remedy the noise.

The Town of Bethel had an agreement with the sheriff’s department, said board members, whereby the town sent any noise permit to the sheriff’s office and gave it the authority to enforce said permits. If the campground continued to play music past 2 a.m., in violation of its permit, deputies could be called to quiet things down.

Additionally, the campground has to re-apply for its noise permit sometime in the fall, and resident concerns could have an impact on that process.

For more immediate relief, the board planned to schedule a public hearing for Wednesday, September 22, at which it would talk with the owners of the campground about the issue.

“A lot of things now will be duly addressed because we have now been informed,” said town board member Victoria Simpson.

In other business, the board conducted public hearings on the clean-up of several properties, previously discussed at a July 28 meeting of the town board. Several of the properties had been cleaned up prior to the public hearing. The owners of the two remaining properties showed up and stated that progress was being made. The board agreed to give each of the remaining properties additional time to be fully cleared, trusting that the owners would continue to work with the town board.

During the public hearing, several Bethel residents in attendance expressed dissatisfaction with the town’s process for determining what needed to be cleaned up, especially when it came to antique or stock cars. The code allows for up to two unregistered cars on a property, said Sturm. Any amount beyond that is considered against the code.

“People have a hobby, OK?” one resident called back.

Collecting and refurbishing antique and stock cars was a popular pastime in the town, said residents. And with the Bethel Speedway located in the town, cracking down on residents who kept such cars on their property penalized those who wanted to race there.

Sturm said that the board would review the relevant sections of the town code, and would make changes if needed.

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