With dog club gone, Selectmen seek to clarify fairgrounds use

By Andrea Ray | Aug 21, 2017
Courtesy of: Rochester Country Fair Committee

Members of the Rochester Board of Selectmen have plans to clarify the Rochester Country Fairground’s use, and begin a committee for that purpose, following the departure of a working dog club from the grounds.

The selectmen had previously heard complaints from abutters of the Rochester Fairgrounds, who stated that the dogs’ loud, frequent barking, plus the group’s extended stays on the property, were detrimental to the neighborhood. A discussion on the group’s use of the fairgrounds property was on the agenda for the Board of Selectmen’s August 21 meeting, but that discussion was dismissed when Selectman Brad Morse noted that the club had vacated the premises. “They’ve moved to a new location in Mattapoisett, and they won’t be using the grounds,” he confirmed.

Where the club has moved to precisely remains unclear, as Morse didn’t elaborate when questioned by Selectmen Woody Hartley.

The club’s departure, however, does not mean an end to the usage conflicts currently at the fairgrounds. Abutters have, at recent Board of Selectmen meetings, complained that the usage rights of the property are unclear. They noted that daily or weekly events, such as the South Coast Working Dog Club were not events that they had anticipated or agreed to.

“When the Country Fair originally moved to the fairgrounds, there were conversations about what wasn’t permitted on the property,” Selectman Naida Parker said. “There were certain things — carnivals, bonfires, fireworks— that weren’t permitted.”

“They were conversations,” agreed Hartley, “but there were no votes or written records. Nothing was ever written down in terms of what was okay and what wasn’t.”

According to Hartley, the Selectmen are considering building a committee to regulate fairground use in the future. The group would involve members of the Country Fair Committee and a representative abutter to speak for the residents neighboring the fairgrounds.

“This group will be the one that sits down and makes written agreements for the property’s use,” Hartley said. “That will be the starting point for anything else that happens at that property in the future.”

Hartley endorsed sending fairground abutters a letter in the future, asking them if they’d be interested in sending a representative to the committee. “I feel that they’re the neighbors, they live there every day. They should have some say in what happens there,” he pointed out.

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