Schenectady County

Ropes course inspires spirited debate in Glenville

The debate over a West Glenville treetop adventure course was reignited at Wednesday’s Glenville Tow
Michael Cellini, co-owner and general manager of Mountain Ridge Adventure, acknowledges attendees at Wednesday night's Glenville Town Board meeting. He addressed the board less than a week after receiving notice of violation saying the ropes and zip li...
Michael Cellini, co-owner and general manager of Mountain Ridge Adventure, acknowledges attendees at Wednesday night's Glenville Town Board meeting. He addressed the board less than a week after receiving notice of violation saying the ropes and zip li...

The debate over a West Glenville treetop adventure course was reignited at Wednesday’s Glenville Town Board meeting, less than a week after the owner received a notice of violation from the town.

The room of about 40 attendees was essentially divided down the middle aisle between residents who came to voice concerns over Mountain Ridge Adventure, a ropes and zip line course, and those who support the business.

The course on Weatherwax Road officially opened on June 3. However, town officials say the business did so illegally by not filing the proper paperwork. Several residents shared their frustrations that they felt the park was changing the rural nature of the neighborhood, while a few others said they saw the business as a positive asset.

“The Glenville Town Board claims to be pro-business but I beg to differ,” Michael Cellini, co-owner and general manager of Mountain Ridge Adventure, said in a speech to the board. “They are only pro-business when it is on their terms.”

Things got heated at times, and speakers were repeatedly reminded that they were supposed to address the Town Board, not other residents in attendance. Each speech during the public comment period drew applause from some, and a less positive reaction from others. One man even booed Cellini after the owner completed his speech.

Following the meeting, Cellini said nothing had changed and the course would continue to operate. The adventure course was previously only open on weekends, but will open during the week starting on Monday, Cellini said.

Last week, the town sent Cellini a notice of violation saying that he had opened the ropes course illegally. The reasoning was that Cellini had not filed the necessary paperwork required by town codes for entertainment businesses that use mechanical equipment. The documents include a permit from New York state, proof of insurance and a Town Board permit.

Cellini said he’s done everything necessary to be able to open, adding that the state Department of Labor told him he doesn’t legally have to submit his permit.

Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said after the meeting that the matter will now be referred to the courts.

“I had hoped he’d come in and talk to us about it and we could find a way for this to work,” Koetzle said. “I don’t know why he doesn’t want to go through the process. The process is in place to ensure public safety.”

A few residents attended the meeting donning pins that read “Keep it Rural. No Adventure Parks.” About five residents spoke specifically in opposition to the ropes course, and said they worried that the course was changing the nature of the neighborhood, which is primarily rural and farmland.

One woman said she believes Johnson Road, which leads up to Mountain Ridge Adventure, is unsafe as is and suggested there be signs and guardrails added. Another West Glenville resident said she doesn’t think Cellini cares about his neighbors’ concerns.

Wearing green shirts with “Mountain Ridge Adventure” printed on the front, Cellini and his wife, Olivia, each spoke to the Town Board, and said that the ropes course is not an amusement park or amusement center, and therefore doesn’t need the additional permit from the town.

Both Michael and Olivia Cellini questioned the board’s interpretation of the town codes, and Michael said he believed the board was harassing the business as a political move.

At another point in his speech, he said the Town Board was “anti-children,” referring to neighbors who had said they didn’t want there to be increased noise with children at the ropes course. There is a gun range in the same neighborhood as the adventure course.

When Olivia Cellini finished her speech, she said she’d be willing to fight the board in court if needed.

“Mrs. Cellini wants to say ‘see you in court,’ fine. That’s fine,” Koetzle said later in the meeting. “We are going to uphold the laws of this town.”

The violation is punishable by a fine of up to $250 per day for each day the course is open illegally. To receive the necessary town permit, Cellini would have to file the proper paperwork and wait until a regular Town Board meeting for the board to issue the document. The next scheduled meeting is July 20.

Moratoriums extended

This isn’t the first time the adventure course has stirred controversy in Glenville. As the project went through the review process, neighbors expressed similar frustrations to Wednesday night, citing concerns over additional noise and traffic.

The site is in a rural residential and agricultural zoning district. Cellini had his initial request in 2014 to build the treetop adventure course on his 50-acre plot approved by the town’s planning and zoning boards. Glenville imposed a temporary moratorium last December for permits on projects in its rural and agricultural zoning districts that require conditional use permits and site plan reviews.

That moratorium, along with one on conditional use permits and businesses such as thrift stores, vapor stores and massage parlors in research development and technology zone districts, was passed in December and extended on Wednesday night.

The moratoriums will continue for six months while Glenville reviews its comprehensive plan, which will clarify the town’s zoning rules and other laws. Koetzle said he expects the comprehensive plan to be finished before the moratoriums expire, and if the two conflict a resolution will have to be passed to cancel them.

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