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Old Catskill Game Farm property gets new permits

April 16, 2018 11:00 pm

CATSKILL — Permits to transform the former Catskill Game Farm property were granted to the owners last month.

Catherine and Ben Ballone, who own the former Catskill Game Farm, 400 Game Farm Road, Kiskatom, received permits last month to hold events up to 250 people, and open four glamping sites as well as an inn.

The Ballones, who purchased the property in 2012, planned to reinvent and reopen the site this fall, Cathy said in January.

The couple bought the 150-acre site nearly six years after the animal park shuttered in 2006. In 2017, the Ballones borrowed $450,000 to convert the site’s 5,500-square-foot giraffe house into the five-room Long Neck Inn.

Cathy Ballone lost five family members in the April 2 house fire, 2753 Route 145, Durham, that killed her parents, Nicholas and Mary Mammano; her two nephews, Jonathen Mammano and Jayden A. Caffrey; and her niece, Sophia Mammano.

Ballone’s brother, John Mammano, was the sole survivor of the blaze. He suffered burns on 15 percent of his body, including his face, hands and arms and received treatment at the Clark Burn Center in Syracuse.

The unexpected tragedy may push back the opening of the inn and glamping site, Ballone said Monday.

“We’re moving forward with construction for the Giraffe House [Inn], but not sure we’re on the mark,” Ballone said, referring to the original timeframe. “We lost five people in one day, my brother is living with me. We’re in flux because of that.”

Catskill Planning Board members approved a special use permit for the property in March after a public hearing Feb. 23. Ballone plans to hold weddings on the site, which will end by 10 p.m. as per the town’s noise law, according to meeting minutes.

During the February public hearing, neighbors expressed concerns over potential noise echoing through the area, according to board minutes.

Hearts Content Road resident David Woodin doesn’t think noise from campers will be heard, he said Monday, but added other neighbors have concerns because of a concert that was held on the property a few years ago.

“I think the neighbors are concerned about the potential music, but that’s because of the [past] concert on the game farm grounds,” he said. “It was loud and raucious and that set the tone for the neighborhood to be on the alert.”

Noise issues pertaining to the town’s noise law would be handled by the code enforcement officer, Izzo said.

“We held a restriction on the size so it would maybe help with the noise if there were concerts,” he said. Izzo referred to the Meltasia concert and the flurry of noise complaints that surfaced after that event, which lasted until almost 2 a.m., neighbors said.

The town adopted a Mass Gathering Law in 2017 for events with more than 1,000 people.

The Meltasia concert was in the past, Izzo said.

“Cathy is trying to meet the requirements of the neighbors and start a business up,” he said Monday. “Sometimes those things don’t coincide, but she says she’s not having more concerts just weddings and small events.”

Resident Chet Myers approached the Catskill Town Board with concerns about the Ballone property, mentioning Meltasia’s “unbearable noise,” according to town board minutes from March 6. Myers also noted concerns about noise at a shooting range nearby.

For Woodin, the gun range presents more of a potential for noise.

“We anticipate that [a commercial shooting range] will be noisy,” he said. “It’s out of character with the quiet country setting of the Round Top area.”

“It’s a concern rather than an issue,” he said. “I will monitor it now this year.”

Edward Rivenburg, the owner of Sheepdog Warrior Shooting Range on Haines Road, hasn’t heard any noise complaints from his closest neighbors, he said Monday, adding the complaints are based on ideology. The shooting range reopened for the season at the end of March, according to their website.

“I’m a retired cop trying to make a living and do some good,” Rivenburg said. “Gun sales have been through the roof the past few years. Our goal is to teach people how to use them safely.”

“And we’ll bring hundreds of people in that will stay in hotels and eat at local restaurants,” he said. “We’re stimulating the economy.”