Hayrides Suspended Due To Cease And Desist Order
Sad news today in Happy Valley: our ever-popular hayrides have been suspended after Benner Township issued a cease and desist order to Nittany Mountain Trail Rides.
The company was forced to stop putting on hayrides for the time being due to complaints about noise levels and alcohol at the events. “We have some neighbors out there that are complaining about the noise,” owner R.B. Powell said, though he disagrees with the complaints. “The image being created in the press about our hayrides, I think it’s somewhat distorted.” Powell said neighbors may be hearing the groups, but hayride noise levels are well within the limits allowed by law.
“Our neighbors out there are complaining, complaining about the sound of happiness… kids singing Wagon Wheel,” Powell said. “There seems to be a general distrust in the areas around State College and in State College itself sometimes that they don’t really appreciate the students.” Everything is here because the university is here, he said, but they don’t want the students in their backyard.
Powell disagrees with complaints about excessive drinking on hayrides, too. “Nittany Mountain Trail Rides does more to monitor and attempt to change the drinking behavior of their customers than anybody in Centre County,” Powell said, citing strict supervision and regulations on hayrides this year. The new rules include inspections of attendees before they get on the bus by security and a restriction that only one keg per 50 people is allowed at the site. The company also notes that people are kept busy during the hayride with food, campfires, and a live bluegrass band.
“We’ve seen a definite change this year,” Powell said. “We have had no serious problems at all this year. Nothing.”
The company has had three previous conditional use hearings to deal with complaints, but owner Powell says the company was under the impression that nothing would be officially decided until a hearing Dec. 1.
“If I wanted to flood that meeting with Penn State students who like the hayrides, we could probably get several thousand out there to have a demonstration,” Powell said. “We probably aren’t gonna go that route, but it would be an interesting thing to see.”
“It is upsetting, it’s very costly to us,” Powell said, noting the company paid a significant amount for the land in Bellefonte where hayrides are held. “We have a lot invested, and we have a lot of very, very happy customers… There’s thousands of students on campus who appreciate what we do.”
Powell has agreed to stop serving hayrides for the time being. “We are going to comply with their wishes and do everything we’re supposed to do. We’ve done that from the very beginning.”