CHATHAM — More than a dozen people passionately shared opinions both for and against a special use permit to allow an all-terrain vehicle trail operation in Keeling during a public hearing Tuesday night before the Pittsylvania County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The board voted 6-1 to approve the application for Red Oak Hollow ATV Trails after hearing from 14 residents.

The trails are family owned and cover more than 500 acres.

M.J. Berson, a veteran from Leesville, North Carolina, said ATV trails are a great activity for him and his two kids on the weekends. He brought pictures of his children because it was a school night and they could not attend. He requested the special permit be granted so his kids can enjoy the trip and experience with their father.

Many neighbors expressed displeasure with the park’s operations, particularly with the noise ATVs generate.

“[The noise] is just going [to] escalate, and I am the one that’s got to listen to it,” said Tanner Owen, who lives nearby.

“I want peace and quiet,” said John Harris, who lives about three-quarters of a mile away from the property.

Phyllis Harris, another neighbor who lives a mile away, said she fears the noise actually will decrease the value of her home.

“They want to turn it into a business at their neighbor’s expense,” she said.

The permit includes 11 conditions including trails only are allowed to be open Thursday through Sunday, and the hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during Daylight Savings time.

Red Oak Hollow also will be responsible for controlling erosion, maintaining a setback of 300 feet from the property lines all the way around and following health department regulations and the county noise ordinance.

Others who supported the approval of the permit referenced the park’s family friendly environment and the family’s community involvement as reasons it should be approved.

“I feel that Red Oak is good for our children and an asset to our community,” Brenda Martin said.

Several talked about the boost on local economy, as people who come will spend money on gas and at local restaurants.

“You have people who are eager to come and spend their money,” Jenny Neal said.

Ronald Merricks was the only commissioner to vote against the approval.

“Everyone has a right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property,” he said.

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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