Northampton pulls plug on ranch festival
Fundraiser benefited horse rescue farm
NORTHAMPTON The owner of a Northampton horse rescue farm said Monday she will fight the town’s effort to cancel her annual fundraising festival.
The town is asking the state Supreme Court in Fulton County to issue an injunction and block the “Mama Strawberry Jam” planned at the Solid Rock Ranch, according to a lawsuit filed May 1.
The three-day event, scheduled to begin May 17, is being promoted as a fundraiser for the horse rescue operation.
According to a promotional site, “Jambase.com,” more than 20 bands are booked for the weekend. Also planned are crafts, food vendors and a kiddie village. A Facebook page for the event shows more than 11,700 people have been invited, 588 are already planning to attend and 479 more are considering it.
The 2013 event would be the third Mama Strawberry Jam. Music events of some form have been held there for more than 10 years, Solid Rock Ranch owner Deborah Bant said Monday.
She said she intends to hire a lawyer and fight the effort because she believes both her farm and the events are grandfathered, as they predate the town’s zoning provisions.
Bant said most neighbors in the vicinity of the farm attend the music events. She said the Sheriff’s Department showed up during one prior event responding to a noise complaint but people do not get unruly during functions. “We have not had any fights, any arrests on my property at all,” she said.
The town contends holding the event would violate several provisions of town laws including the “special event permitting law” and the town zoning code, according to the filing.
The farm is located off Maple Grove Road near the Great Sacandaga Lake, just northeast of the village of Northville.
That area, according to the town, is zoned “medium density residential” restricted to such uses as homes, some agricultural operations and bed and breakfasts. Bant said she believes the town rezoned her property to include it in a residential zone that disallows agricultural operations involving livestock.
There is a town permit process for events expected to draw 300 or more people, but special events are not allowed within residential zones at all, according to the town’s lawsuit.
“It is clear that this event does not comport to the list of uses allowed in the MDR zone and that hosting such event is a clear violation of the town’s zoning law,” the lawsuit alleges.
The events raise money both for the Solid Rock horse rescue operation and for local charity, Bant said, calling it an annual economic boon to Northville.
Messages seeking comment from town officials were not returned Monday.