Testimony in the case of Mountain Ridge Adventure in Glenville could conclude next week, after day two of the trial featured just one witness taking the stand.
The defense began presenting its case on Thursday, with the sole witness being former Glenville Building Inspector Paul Borisenko.
The trial represents a possible resolution to the ongoing dispute between Michael and Olivia Cellini, who own Mountain Ridge Adventure, and Glenville officials over whether the business has been operating illegally for about two months.
The trial resumed two weeks after the town rested its case, which culminated with a motion from the Cellinis’ lawyer to dismiss the lawsuit. That motion was denied by Glenville Town Justice Jennifer McPhail.
Whereas day one of the trial focused mainly on whether the zip line and adventure park operates using mechanical equipment, day two focused more on whether the business itself would be considered an amusement park-type operation, with an emphasis on how it was defined in the approval process.
The town maintains the Cellinis need an amusement park permit, issued by the town board, while the owners have stated they did everything necessary to open, and the amusement park permit wasn’t mentioned during a years-long approval process with the town planning and zoning boards.
According to the Glenville town codes, an amusement park “includes the operation of mechanical equipment designed for entertainment, exclusive of equipment ordinarily classed as playground equipment.”
The owners face a fine of up to $250 for each day they’ve been open if found guilty. The course opened around June 6, but was only open on weekends for the first few weeks of operation. The owners could be fined more than $10,000.
Borisenko, who took questions from both lawyers on Thursday for about 90 minutes, retired as Glenville’s building inspector on June 30 after more than 12 years on the job.
In his opinion, he said, Mountain Ridge Adventure fit into the category of outdoor recreation for zoning purposes, not an amusement park. The business, located on Weatherwax Road in West Glenville, is in an agricultural and residential zoning district, which allows for certain outdoor recreation activity when a permit is obtained.
The town has since put a moratorium on issuing such permits until the town codes are rewritten, a project that’s already underway.
One of the Cellinis’ arguments dating to when the notice of violation was issued is that the planning and zoning board didn’t indicate during the approval process that they’d need an amusement park permit. Borisenko, who said he attended zoning board meetings during the approval process, said the board did not impose a condition on the business that it acquire an amusement park permit prior to opening.
The building inspector is not responsible for issuing those permits, and plays essentially no role in giving them out, Borisenko said during questioning from the town’s lawyer.
The retired building inspector also testified that he’s seen zip lines on “fancy new playgrounds,” including one he helped install. However, he acknowledged those are designed for children to be able to reach from the ground, unlike the ones at Mountain Ridge Adventure.
The town code notes an exception for mechanical equipment that can be found on playgrounds. The business includes several challenge courses suspended 10 feet or higher off the ground, as well as a separate zip line park where visitors can hook onto the line and glide from platform to platform.
As testimony concluded on Thursday, McPhail said she’d like to get through the rest of the witnesses at the next session. As a result, the next day of testimony was scheduled for Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.
Mountain Ridge Adventure, located on the Cellinis’ property on Weatherwax Road, has been a contentious subject since it was first proposed a few years ago. Neighbors have largely been opposed to the ropes course, saying they prefer to keep the land rural. At Glenville’s June Town Board meeting, residents spoke about fears that the course was changing the character of the neighborhood, which is mostly undeveloped.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels 395-3113, email@example.com or @Brett_Samuels27.