Let’s support the Clark Farm

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I am writing in support of Clark Farm’s application to the Planning and Zoning Commission to have a select number and type of events in their very nice looking white tent on the orchard property. The residents of Strawberry Field have issued several complaints. Their concern that events might be noisy is valid, but the Clarks have agreed to have a small set number of such gatherings and that music would be over at a specified time, even as early at 9 p.m.

In my opinion, other complaints really do not have much merit. The complaint that the tent ruins their view is an exaggeration, as only a few of the houses can see the tent, and for some, it would seem one would have to be on the second floor to do so. If the tent were not there, they would have an unrestricted view of the backside of St. Therese Church. Now I may be wrong about this, but I think the nice white tent in the middle of the field is a better view. The tent has not stopped the birds from flying in the orchard, and the bears and coyotes can still roam freely.

As for worrying about excess traffic: Strawberry Field Road is not very near the entrance to the Farm. We are talking about a few isolated events at the farm, not the weekly fall U-picks. Is it really asking too much to have to wait at the end of the road for some cars to pass for a one-time wedding, as opposed to weekly apple picking?

Speaking of the U-pick events, the farm has been hosting apple-picking events for as long as I can remember—first as Bushy Hill Orchard and now as Clark Farm. One of the complainants went on and on about how if the Clarks have weddings or other parties, the exhaust from the full parking lot of cars whose leaking oil into the water table would be bad for the environment. Every apple-picking season, the lot is full and cars line the road for many weeks in a row. To my knowledge, no one has ever complained about that. I think the percentage of cars leaking oil must be quite low.

As for the intersection of Bushy Hill and Rte. 20 being dangerous—that may be true but it has always been, and is not the responsibility of the Clark Farm. Cars will go in both directions when they leave the Farm; let’s not get into regulating which direction they can go.

Then there is the complaint that if the Clarks sell hard cider, people will get drunk on the property and find their way to the pond behind Strawberry Field residents and drown. I can’t imagine someone who is that drunk being able to make his/her way through the dense growth (with lots of thorns) to the pond, but then, I’ve never been that drunk.

The complaint that irks me the most is the one that the residents paid into a fund to have a conservation easement guaranteeing no development at the orchard, and they seem to consider having a tent up in the summer and an occasional wedding or family party to be development. The orchard is not being developed; it is being used by the farm. No houses are being built; no industry is moving in. Why this has not been clearly explained to them, I do not know, but somehow they think that a conservation easement allows them to decide what the farm does based on having contributed money for the easement. They do not seem to understand the difference between development and usage.

As is true for most farmers, the Clarks need to find ways to serve the public in addition to providing fruits, vegetables and other delicious things to eat if they want to stay afloat in today’s economy. Let’s not stand in the way of that.