Decibel levels of barking and howling Alaskan Huskies and the high-pitched noise of snowmobiles were some of the concerns brought up by the half a dozen neighbors who spoke against a proposed commercial dog sledding and snowmobiling business at a public hearing on January 22, while the potential of boosting employment and helping the economy were two points brought up by the potential proprietor of said business.
Mike Mancino, owner of Vanderbeek Farm, told the Lackawaxen Board of Supervisors that if his plan in its entire scope was brought to fruition, the small, rural town could expect six snowmobile rides a day and 81 outings of dog sledding at 10 minutes apiece.
Chairman of the supervisors, Brian Stuart, said, “A lot of people in this room are concerned about the decibel level, not that I want to put words in people’s mouths.”
A scant 15 minutes later, when the floor was open to the half a dozen residents near the farm, the noise factor, estimated to top 110 decibels by the dogs as well as the snowmobiles, was front and center.
Blaise Major was probably the most succinct when he said, “Dogs make a heck of a lot of noise, not to mention the problems that would arise if the dogs were to get loose.”
Those in attendance were surprised that a howling dog’s decibel level is the same as a snowmobile. The town ordinance allows for a decibel level of 65.
Perhaps Marilyn Nalesnik compiled the most comprehensive list of objections to the proposed business. “I’m all for inspiring growth within reason to Lackawaxen, but we have to have overall harmony with the rural and peaceful setting that residents treasure here,” she said.
She touched on the sheer danger of snowmobiles and asked the board hypothetically if Mancino and his staff would have to be trained in CPR and have knowledge about American Red Cross procedures. On the upside, she did acknowledge that such a business would encourage the “young to stay.”
Mancino said that he stands on his record as a patriot who was awarded the Wayne Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution Flag Certificate for showing patriotism with flags that adorn his place of business and others for those who have served in the armed forces.
Speaking to the issue at hand, he said he feels a deep sense of pride, too, in Lackawaxen and the area in which his family has lived since 1920. The economy, he said, is still on the mend, and his project would offer jobs and steady employment.
When Mancino and some of the residents became embroiled in a back-and- forth exchange, Stuart said that residents could not ask questions, rather, they should merely voice concerns.
Stuart told Mancino to “quantify and qualify” his proposal, to outline the type of snowmobiles he proposes to use and the kind of dogs that would pull the sleds. Mancino said he would use Alaskan Huskies, a dog that has a good disposition. A town ordinance states that dogs may not stay outside, which is what this breed prefers; the dogs would have to stay in a kennel on the property overnight.
Vanderbeek Farms, opened in 2007, at present offers English, Western and pleasure riding lessons. It features an 80-foot by 20-foot indoor riding facility, a 100-foot by 200-foot outdoor riding facility and has nearly completed a 150-foot by 300-foot outdoor riding facility.
Mancino was instructed to have his information collected by February 25, when there will be a public hearing on the proposal.