By Ted Waddell
KAUNEONGA LAKE August 5, 2005 The handwriting was on the wall.
Tom Shepstone, the Town of Bethel's planning consultant, led off Tuesday night's planning board meeting by recommending that a provisional special use permit application requested by Roy Howard and Jeryl Abramson (operating as Yasgur Road Productions, or YRP) to host a Woodstock-themed reunion combined with a temporary campground on their property August 12-14 be denied.
He cited two main reasons: (1) the applicants didn't pay last year's (reduced) fees of $1,243.90 and this year's stipulated escrow amount of $1,250 and (2) they failed to comply with three conditions of approval outlined by the board: installation of two temporary signs at the entrance to the site advising all event participants:
That no overnight camping is permitted.
The site must be vacated no later than 12 midnight, and guests shall not be permitted to return until 10 a.m.
No overnight camping of any type, open fires, fireworks or illegal drugs shall be permitted on site.
The applicant hereby adopts and agrees to implement all provisions of the management plan."
Asked it they had received a certified letter from town building inspector Tim Dexter stating that back fees and a proposed escrow amount had to be paid no later than the start of the meeting, Abramson said they had gotten the letter, but when asked if the applicants had the money, she replied, "No."
"I guess it ain't going to happen," said Abramson, adding, "This is a whole new permit, and I don't think that's acceptable."
Howard, fruitlessly trying to engage the board in a debate, said, "What are you prohibiting us from doing? My civil rights say you can't deny me having people on my property [if I don't charge them anything].
"What's the difference people come here anyway," he added.
Shepstone described the standoff between the applicants and the town planning board in harsh words.
"We can't deal with an applicant who doesn't even make a good faith effort," he said.
"I'm tired of this personally and am embarrassed for the Town of Bethel that they've had to put up with this nonsense."
Abramson replied, "You will absorb all the liability for the thousands of people you acknowledge are coming here. . . . Good luck!"
Howard said the town wasnt being fair, as he claimed they don't regulate parking along the edge of Route 17B where a large flea market springs up every weekend in Mongaup Valley.
"You look the other way," he said. "There's a double standard in the Town of Bethel."
Dairy farmer and town councilman Harold Russell lives adjacent to Max Yasgur's old farm in Bethel, now owned by Howard and Abramson, and over the years he has sparred with Howard over events, sanctioned or otherwise, staged next door
After a decade, he's had his fill of Woodstock reunions.
"The board acted in good faith they did what they had to do," he said in the wake of the planning board unanimously voting 5-0 to deny the provisional special use permit.
"I hope everything goes off without a hitch, but for me it's going to be a vigilant weekend," said Russell. "I'll be surprised it there's no one there."