By Tim Sohn

News Eagle Correspondent

A farm owner near Hawley wants to offer commercial snowmobiling and dogsledding, but neighbors are concerned how this would affect their quality of life.

The Lackawaxen Board of Supervisors held a conditional use hearing Jan. 22, 5:30 p.m., at the township building, regarding an application by Vanderbeek Farm, 104 Vanderbeek Farm Lane, to expand the uses of its property to include snowmobiling and dogsledding; the farm also wants to build a kennel for the dogs. Michael Mancino, of the Mancino family who owns the farm, attended the hearing. The board asked Mancino to provide details about the snowmobiles and dogs, as well as a business plan, by Feb. 18.

Area residents voiced worries over potential noise from snowmobiles during the day and howling dogs at night.

One neighbor asked Mancino what will happen when there is no snow. Mancino responded then the snowmobiling or dogsledding wouldn’t be offered.

He is concerned about noise from both snowmobiles and dogs.

"I’ve seen tracks in fresh snow from snowmobiles. They make a heck of a lot of noise, and with dogs barking – you can’t tell a dog not to bark," he said, who also asked, what happens if a dog gets away?

Mancino said they will take precautions, including enclosing the dogs, but animals sometimes escape: "We have 23 horses on the farm, and we haven’t lost one of those," he said.

A resident of Moss Creek is also concerned about noise from snowmobiles and dogs.

"We have a dog, so I’m concerned, if dogs start barking, dogs tend to bark when they hear other dogs barking. They tend to howl when they hear other dogs howl, so I’m concerned about that," he said.

He also said a few weekends ago that there were three snowmobiles operated at the farm, most likely for personal use, a couple weekends ago.

"We did hear them, and we did smell them. So, I would actually be quite concerned if there were eight of them operating that we would be in an exhaust plume, flying east of the farm," he said, adding he’s concerned about a "slippery slope" – will ATVs be next?

Another area resident, who is expanding their family and building a home nearby, reiterated concerns about the noise of snowmobiles and dogs, and the "slippery slope."

"For example, if there is no snow, would he be able to create his own snow? How would that affect the community," he said.

Another area resident said she attended meetings in November and December, and she’s back at this meeting, but Mancino did not show up to the previous meetings. "As a neighbor, I personalize that a little bit," she said.

She said there should be a balance between development and harmony among environment and neighbors.

"I understand the need for development and commerce. I understand that we need to grow, but we need to do so in harmony with the environment and in harmony with our neighbors. I love Sam Vanderbeek. Sam spent lots of time in my kitchen. I know Sam, but I don’t know if he would envision this. I don’t know, but things change. I get that, but one person’s freedom can’t be valued above the freedoms of the community," she said.

The conditional use hearing will continue on Feb. 25, 6 p.m., at the township building.

At the regular Board of Supervisors meeting, which immediately followed the conditional use hearing, the 2013 township budget was approved with no increase in taxes.

The Supervisors normally meet on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the offices along Urban Road.