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Zip line proposal withdrawn by applicants; Four other adventure parks in area cited.

Byline: Brian Lee

DUDLEY -- Anticipating competition from four other zip line parks to be built within a 45-minute drive, Christine and Robert Hawley of Vernon, Conn., withdrew their application for a special permit to build an aerial adventure park on a 41-plus-acre parcel at Dresser Hill and Dudley-Southbridge roads, a residential neighborhood.

The couple did not attend Thursday night's Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing, which was filled with dozens of abutters and opponents to the proposal.

They applauded as Chairman John M. Glynn read the Hawleys' withdrawal letter.

The competition, the letter said, "makes it not feasible'' to proceed.

"We are very dismayed and saddened by this turn of events, as we thought this would be a great addition to Dudley and would have benefitted everyone,'' the Hawley's wrote.

The proposed Hawley Adventure Park was to sit on 10 acres as an aerial forest challenge park consisting of more than 50 platforms installed in trees and connected by various configurations of cable, wood, rope and zip lines to form bridges.

Opponents said potential impacts of noise and traffic, and environmental issues and a decline in property values, were among their reasons for standing in its way.

After Mr. Glynn read the letter, chaplain Howard Flexer, an abutter who opposed the plan and who is disabled, said, "You could have told me that before I left the house.''

The proposed park was to front 115 Dudley-Southbridge Road, and called to access the 41.69-acre parcel via an access easement owned by Carol C. Antos over the historic Stagecoach Road that runs through the property of Thomas and Linda Yacuzzi at 215 Dresser Hill Road.

Thomas Brosseau, the Yacuzzis' lawyer, asked the board to outright deny the permit, even though it was being withdrawn.

The lawyer expressed concern that the applicant might come return with the same plan, nullifying the efforts and turnout of "all these good people.''

Mr. Brousseau said the absence of the applicants and their representative Thursday was "a slight'' to the board.

Mr. Glynn said he understood there was a big crowd wanting to speak for and against the proposal. But with the applicant not present, he noted, the board could not consent to the lawyer's request.

Mr. Brousseau said he would understand if the applicant returned with a different use, but he wanted to put closure on the zip line park. The lawyer noted not everyone knew beforehand that the applicant wasn't proceeding.

But board member Roger Dubois said he had called everyone he knew who was tied to the opposition group, to tell them about the applicant's verbal request to withdraw.

At the suggestion of Kenneth F. Candito, the Dudley District Court clerk magistrate and an abutter who opposed the plan, the board unanimously voted to withdraw the aerial park plan "without prejudice,'' meaning it can't be brought to the board again.

The board also acknowledged receipt of correspondence from residents and abutters.

Recording clerk Gloria Harvey said after the meeting she was in receipt of about 20 such letters.

After the meeting, Linda Yacuzzi said the group would go out to celebrate.

Contact Brian Lee at
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Lee, Brian
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 10, 2014
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