Wednesday July 17, 2013

POWNAL -- The president of a remote controlled airplane flying club that is rankling residents says a letter bearing his name that is being used in the debate is forged.

The letter came up Thursday at a Pownal Select Board meeting where Marc Freedman, a spokesman for the Peaceful Valley Association, made a presentation about the Green Mountain Renegade Flyers club allegedly being a noise nuisance to those living within earshot of the Southern Vermont Energy Park where the club flies. The letter purports to be from Angelo Nicoletta, the Flyers club president, and it asks the board about what permits are needed to host a flying event at the former track.

The letter spells "Nicoletta" two different ways. In the return address at the top it is spelled "Nicolleta," while everywhere else, including the typed signature, it is spelled Nicoletta.

Nicoletta said in an interview Monday he did not send the letter, but whoever did "did their homework," as they knew his home address as well as his habit it signing "A. Nicoletta."

The meeting Thursday grew heated when the letter was discussed. Nicoletta was not present, but Scott Lyons, a spokesman for the club, was. He said at the meeting Nicoletta did not write it, and apparently confirmed that with Nicoletta via cell phone after stepping out of the room briefly.

Freedman said he obtained the letter from town officials.

Zoning Administrator Nelson Brownell said the letter was sent to many town officials, including the board, Development Review Board, and Planning Commission.

Contrary to what the letter assumes, the flyers do not need a permit, said Brownell. He said the club has been in the practice of seeking the board’s blessing for the special events, and that blessing has been given, but they do not need a permit from the town as they are not violating any existing regulations.

What prompted this latest round of argument is an event being held July 27 and 28 by the club. Freedman said part of what has the association bothers is the wording of he flier put out by the club. "There are no noise restrictions and we can fly 24 hours a day," reads part of the event notice.

"That’s not fair," said Freedman, echoing the same sentiments a number of residents bought before the board in September along with a petition signed by 40 asking the board to regulate the club somehow.

Lyons explained that the "noise restrictions" refers to when flying events judge participants on the noise of their airplanes. He said no one would be measuring that here, and added that the kind of RC airplanes being flown are more expensive and quieter than what normally sees air time on the weekends.

Freedman played an audio recording of what he said was the sound of the RC airplanes being flown as heard from inside his house on North West Hill Road. He said the noise has prompted many to leave their homes on weekends, and has affected property values. He said the board has the legal authority to regulate nuisances.

The board did not appear to see it that way, and as it did in September suggested that the residents meet with the club and a moderator to work out a solution. Board Chairman Stephen Kauppi said Brownell would likely be fine with mediating a meeting.

Board member Rich Ryder strongly suggested the club only fly electric airplanes at night, not the gas powered sort, which Lyons said were louder. Lyons said only one gas powered plane was going to be flown July 27.

Brownell said Lyons has contacted him about a meeting. Freedman said in an interview he also plans to participate. It was not clear why a meeting was not arranged after September.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.