Opinion: Cannon needs Ferrisburgh board action, more dialog
My thanks to the Addison Independent for reporting on the cannon use controversy (The firing line, July 2, 2015) here in West Ferrisburgh. A sympathetic representation overall but several points are worth mentioning I think.
The so-called “summer” people here include many long-term and local residents (e.g., Ryans, Welches, Jackmans, etc.), more recent year-rounders (like me, 12 years), and many families who’ve been summering here for over 100 years and, until last year, never had to wake up and go to sleep to repeated, startling, daylong cannon fire. The Stearns’ farm is 650 acres, yet the corn patch and cannon in question are situated right above numerous camps right on the lake. I daresay if any of the selectboard had to experience repeated, jarring gunfire all day by their homes, we would have a noise ordinance in place.
Meanwhile, the town just lost $1.6 million from the grand list and that is likely to worsen on further appeal. Our goal is not monetary, it’s to spur the selectboard to set some reasonable rules to protect landowners here from loss, as is their mandate. Lack of involvement by the selectboard or some other ruling entity will cost Ferrisburgh even more money in ongoing revenue loss and increased legal fees (see June 11 selectboard minutes, for one example).
When some 40 families here at Kimball Dock associated in 2010 and bought the Barrows farm at auction (it’s where we live, surrounding Wayne’s farm), we also sold Wayne 65 acres of prime cropland at a bargain price, with the Vermont Land Trust. I’ve attended several year-end game roasts at Crazy Acres and feel sad to not be welcome anymore.
Other than a few stupid, bad behaviors last year, we have all remained respectful and tried to engage constructively, as have the town listers and Justus DeVries, looking for an equitable solution. Yet it feels like repeated attempts at resolution have been rebuffed and there is currently no openness regarding future use of the cannon. There are many possible solutions yet to be explored and others worth reconsidering, but there has to be a genuine willingness to work things out to the benefit of all, which is currently lacking (in my opinion).
This is not a simple farm versus non-farm issue, it goes way beyond that. But everyone in Ferrisburgh lives near some cornfield. Where would your sympathies lie if beginning in July you (including children and elderly) were awakened at 6 a.m. by a jarring shotgun and rifle blast every few minutes, all day long? I’ll admit, it keeps the birds away.
Lee Weisman, West Ferrisburgh
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