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Many line up to fight ATV park on area farm

October 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

Concerns about noise, dust, traffic and property values were raised repeatedly at a public hearing Tuesday on a Coseytown Road man's plan to build an all-terrain vehicle park on his 45-acre farm.

The arguments were still going three hours into the hearing as opponents lined up at the microphone waiting their turn to speak to the Antrim Township Supervisors.

At issue is a proposal by Lester Horst, owner of Horst Cycle Inc., an ATV and motorcycle repair shop and retail store at 4495 Coseytown Road, to build a series to trails for ATV, dirt bike and BMX bikers.


Horst has requested that his property be rezoned from R-1 low-density to R-2 medium density because it has a conditional use clause that allows for outdoor recreation.

Horst opened his business in 1983 and has generally been left alone by his neighbors along this narrow, twisting stretch of road in southern Antrim Township near the Maryland line.

In January he announced that he was eligible for a $100,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant to build an ATV park on his property.

Several neighbors said that while they don't object to his current business, they don't want an ATV park in their midst.

A 230-name petition signed by area residents along Coseytown Road, in nearby Montgomery Township and in adjoining Washington County was presented to the supervisors before the meeting.

A map of the area on display for Tuesday's meeting in the Kauffman Ruritan Community Center held hundreds of pins showing where each house sits in relation to Horst's property.

The well-prepared opponents also had aerial maps of the area to show the supervisors.

They hired Chambersburg attorney G. Bryan Salzmann to help them prepare for Tuesday's hearing. Salzmann also helped them prepare their petitions.

It was apparent from the seating arrangements that most of those in attendance opposed Horst.

Horst said his main goal is to teach young riders and others how to ride safely. He is a certified ATV instructor, he has said.

"All I want to do is to make a difference in the lives of young people today," he said.

More than 20 supporters of Horst testified that an ATV trail is needed in Franklin County.

They discounted neighbors' fears of noise and dust, saying Horst will plant hundreds of trees on his property to abate the noise and will install a watering system to keep the dust down on the dirt trails.

Mike Twigg, owner of Twigg Cycles Inc. in Hagerstown, told the supervisors that Pennsylvania ranks fourth in ATV use in the nation.

He called Horst a "responsible business owner" and said his ATV park will be a model of safety for ATV users.

"They're good people who are trying to do something solid for this community," Twigg said of Horst and his wife, Becky.

Greg Hartman, 19, of Antrim Township, said Horst has taught more than 1,200 people how to safely ride ATVs.

"This park won't be a racetrack," Hartman said.

Allison Trobaugh of Scar Hill Road, which runs off Coseytown Road, led the charge for Horst's opponents.

She came to the microphone carrying Emma, her 4-month-old baby, in her arms.

"We've been hearing all night that this is for recreational use," she said.

The Conococheague Creek, which abuts Horst's property, is also used for recreation, she said.

"ATVs will adversely affect the creek," she said, adding that the machines spew pollutants such as nitrogen oxide that will eventually end up in the creek.

Nancy Mellott, another Scar Hill Road resident, said even if Horst plants trees they will take years to grow. As for his plan to wet down his ATV trails to control dust, "we're supposed to be conserving water," she said.

"I'm not opposed to your idea. It just doesn't belong here," she said.

Mellott's sentiment was echoed by many who followed her to the microphone.

Ellen Young of Montgomery Township said she could accept Horst's repair and retail business and his limited ATV trails.

Young chided Horst's supporters and said none of them live on Coseytown Road.

"It's not in your backyard so you don't have to listen to it," she said.

Another speaker said all of Pennsylvania's approved ATV trails are in state forests. None is on private land, he said.

Joseph Hulock, a Coseytown Road resident, said he has never seen an issue that has raised so much anger and resentment as Horst's ATV park plans.

"It doesn't belong in a residential area," Hulock said. "We'll never be able to get away from the noise and dust."

"Coseytown Road is not cozy anymore," Duane Barnhart said.

Last week, the Antrim Township Planning and Zoning Commission voted not to recommend Horst's application. The final decision on the zoning change request is up to the township supervisors.

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