Even those who’ve never been to Sleepy Hollow Farm in Pomfret, Vt., might know what it looks like.
But this season, Sleepy Hollow Farm will likely be much quieter. The Pomfret town government, alongside that of the neighboring town of Woodstock, in August approved temporary road closures around the property to reduce tourist traffic, which officials and residents say has sparked safety concerns in autumns past. The closures will be in effect from Sept. 23 to Oct. 15, with exceptions for some authorities and residents on the roads surrounding the land.
“It’s kind of silly that it’s gotten to this point, but it’s become a real nuisance,” said Windsor County Sheriff Ryan Palmer. “And, in some cases, a real safety issue.”
The current owners of the property could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sleepy Hollow Farm was established around the 1780s by two brothers who built neighboring farms that were owned by their family for more than 100 years, NewEngland.com reported. The 115-acre property, which includes a barn, pond, guesthouse and log cabin, was recently owned by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, according to the news outlet. The house was sold on behalf of the Perry family in 2020 for more than $2 million.
Over the last few years, the property has been bombarded with tourists, many of whom made it a destination after seeing it framed online as a dreamy spot for a perfect, screensaver-worthy fall photo.
But for the residents who live along the roads leading to Sleepy Hollow Farm, it was anything but.
Many worried that the congestion during fall foliage season would make it difficult for an ambulance or firetruck to travel through, Palmer said. Some had experienced tourists walking across their properties and using their land for picnics.
“This is somebody’s backyard. This is somebody’s pond,” Palmer said. “It’s not public access, and there’s just been so much disrespect.”
Margarete Pierce, who lives in the area, told WCAX that visitors have parked on her property and blocked her driveway.
“They go into my garden house and look for a bathroom,” Pierce said.
In an interview with TODAY, Amy Robb, another resident near the farm, described the lengths tourists have gone to while taking photos in front of the landscape.
“We see people in dressing rooms, like they bring dressing rooms to change in different outfits and take pictures,” Robb said.
Last fall, in an effort to curb the traffic, Pomfret made a stretch of road leading to Sleep Hollow Farm one-way only. Though the measure helped, residents were still concerned about emergency services access and trespassing as the number of tourists only seemed to grow.
Ahead of fall this year, about 30 residents near the property discussed different strategies to reduce the traffic on a shared email chain, neighbors said during a May 3 town meeting.
Some residents thought it would help to write reviews online, giving the landscape low ratings and clarifying that it was a private property and not an attraction. Someone even tried to delete Sleepy Hollow Farm’s location from Google Maps.
“What we really want to do is not find a Band-Aid, but help seriously get a cure for this,” one resident said during the May meeting.
After discussing multiple options over the summer months, the Pomfret town government last month approved closures to two roads running toward Sleepy Hollow Farm.
When the closures take effect this weekend, there will be barricades, signage and uniformed law enforcement officers around the area, Palmer said.
“It’s not to discriminate against tourists,” he said. “It just has become such a quality of life and safety issue for the folks living on that road that unfortunately we had to take this measure.”
Source: Washington Post
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