A youth tennis camp proposed for Stowe Hollow has been denied by the town, largely because it would bring too much of a racket to the quiet residential area.
The Stowe Development Review Board, at its Sept. 15 meeting, denied the camp the permits necessary to build six tennis courts for the players, a 3,200-square-foot barn for storage and a pond for cooling off.
The 7.4-acre property at 2043 Stowe Hollow Road is located just a few hundred feet from the Gold Brook Covered Bridge — a popular wooden span famous for its purported ghost, Emily. Property owner Jeffrey Daly is a United States Professional Tennis Association tennis instructor, and he envisioned the summer tennis camp at his place.
According to the project application, submitted July 31, Stowe Tennis Academy would host campers ages 8-15 for three sessions over eight weeks between mid-June and mid-August, starting next summer.
Daly didn’t reply to requests for comment Wednesday before press time, so it is not clear whether he hopes to launch the academy elsewhere. He registered the academy as an limited liability company in July, a week before submitting his application to the Stowe zoning office.
Zoning director Sarah McShane said the review board had not yet finalized its decision in writing, but said the board denied the project after a deliberative session Sept. 14. Some of the reasons included the noise it would bring and the way it would be incongruous with the “character of the area.”
Dozens of people attended the meeting remotely, although there were also other dockets on the agenda that evening. In addition, 19 nearby property owners submitted letters opposing the project, largely for the noise anticipated by the expected 30 kids — 20 overnight and 10 day campers — that would attend the camps.
Stowe Hollow is zoned rural residential and many noted there is nothing residential about a busy for-profit tennis camp.
Wrote Stowe Hollow Road resident Harry Bonyun, “Mrs. Bonyun and I continue to have the sense that something isn’t quite right about locating a tennis academy in the heart of Stowe Hollow. ‘The Hollow’ has long been known as ‘The Quiet Side of Town,’ unfettered with commercial activities and we’d like to keep it that way, absent some compelling need to vary from being the rural residential neighborhood we’ve called ‘Home’ since 1984.”
Added neighbor Constantine Papageorgiou, “The neighborhood is so quiet we can clearly hear — from many hundreds of feet away — neighbors talking and children playing.”
There were also concerns about the effect on stormwater runoff with six impervious tennis court surfaces — altogether the court areas would have taken up roughly 43,000 square feet.
Increased traffic in the area also was on many neighbors’ lists.
Janice Fetsch, who owns a home on nearby Hollow’s End Road, said she has seen the increased traffic from a gymnastics camp located near her cottage in South Hero, many of them speeding and “very prone not to take the character of the neighborhood or the Vermont roads into account.” The speeding, she said, is dangerous for walkers, bikers and wildlife, and is tough for the local police to keep on top of.
There was the general sense that such a commercial enterprise, albeit one featuring a sport with deep roots in Stowe, just doesn’t fit in the Hollow, and might even drive down property values for those homes nearest to the academy.
Other zoning news
The development review board will take up some more projects at its next meeting, Oct. 6. One to keep an eye on is the plan by the owners of the Commodores Inn on South Main Street to convert the 72-room hotel into 42 apartments.
Bruce and Carrie Nourjian built the hotel in 1985, and Bruce also had a hand in building The Matterhorn, arguably the town’s most popular apres ski bar. Bruce was named Stowe Business Person of the Year, the same year Carrie was named “Toughest in Vermont,” after winning a pair of grueling cycling races up and over Smugglers’ Notch.
Also on the Oct. 8 docket:
• Elevate Movement Collective, the Mountain Road gym that trains the next generation of ninja warriors, is looking to erect a temporary “sports barn” to expand its offerings. It’s meant as a short-term solution to space issues brought on by the pandemic and can be erected and dismantled in the span of a weekend.
• Edson Hill Manor is proposing a more permanent 5,850-square-foot event barn, to be used as a place for small events year-round and for kitchen and restrooms when the manor hosts events under its tent.