Father and son win zoning change for paintball field near Taneytown

Two to move business to escape complaints

July 29, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Rumbling combines, hay bales and grazing horses have dominated the landscape along Old Taneytown Pike for more than 50 years.

But the farm landscape will soon change as men and women wearing masks and carrying guns hide behind enormous electrical spools and fire guns, pelting each other with brightly colored paint pellets.

The Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals agreed yesterday to allow William Hartman and his son Rick to use 42.6 acres southeast of Taneytown for commercial recreation: paintball.

Although only one person showed up yesterday to testify against the mock battlefield in the 3900 block of Old Taneytown Pike, paintball has been the focus of heated controversy in the small Carroll County town.

During the past year, the Hartmans have been engrossed in a battle against William Hartman's neighbors, who want the 3-year-old paintball course on his 31-acre horse farm -- which receives state funding for being in the Agricultural Land Preservation Program -- closed.

"We've been looking for a place to move to get everyone off our backs," said Rick Hartman.

The 3-acre course on Bear Run Road will close in September, when the new 23-acre "professional course" for the fast-paced sport that uses carbon-dioxide-powered rifles opens, said Rick Hartman, who owns paintball supply stores in Hanover, Pa., Westminster and Frederick.

In addition to being nearly 12 times the size of the old course, the new course will have all of the accessories needed for guerrilla tactics -- hundreds of trees, wood piles and old electrical spools donated by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

The old course was only open to family and friends -- groups no larger than 40, Rick Hartman said. The new course can be reserved for up to 100 people. Admission will be $5.

Rick Hartman said the family will complete the lot purchase -- for a sum he refuses to disclose -- Sept. 15. The men will purchase the paintball playing field, a large pavilion where players can change and eat, a gazebo, a 4,000-square-foot catering pavilion and a wedding chapel. The men had not planned to purchase the formal party facilities, but they were included in the deal.

They plan to maintain the formal facility and keep renting it out for events.

Although the paintball field was moved to a less densely populated area, high school history teacher John Baugher showed up at the hearing to voice concerns.

Baugher's small farm is adjacent to the paintball field. Although it is only about 150 yards from the Hartman's new property, Rick Hartman promised him at the hearing that they would maintain a distance of 400 yards between the playing field and Baugher's farm.

Baugher said he worries about his 4-year-old daughter and her friends being hit while playing. He also expressed concern about noise.

At the hearing, William Hartman told the audience the game is no louder than "a Little League baseball game." He added that the pellets, made of vegetable oil and food coloring, are nontoxic. He said he feeds them to his horse for protein.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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