By a unanimous vote, the six members of the board approved a special-use permit for the race track, which is located in an area that is not zoned for such a use.
Jim Hayes, who co-owns the park with his brother Jeff, said they were approached about getting a permit in the fall, but had experienced a number of delays in the process. On Sunday, the brothers were informed no more racing would be allowed until they obtained a permit from the planning board, he said.
Approximately 50 people packed the Glen Town Hall, all concerned they might lose a popular destination for racing fans.
Several people spoke in support of the motorsports park during the public hearing, and in particular noted the area could not afford to drive out more businesses.
Only one person, town of Glen resident Patti Wells, had any concerns related to the motorsports park. As someone who lives near the track off Lusso Road, Wells said, she has seen first-hand how reckless people can be when they leave the races. She said people routinely ignore the speed limits, and can be seen racing down the narrow, crumbling, roads.
“I enjoy Glen Ridge,” Wells said. “I just wish people would pay attention and slow down.”
With that as the only concern addressed at the meeting, Planning Board Chairman John Thomas said the board felt comfortable going ahead and approving the permit.
Other public hearings have been conducted during the permit process, he said, but as with Thursday night’s meeting no one showed up to voice their opposition to the use of the motorsports park.
“Supposedly people have complained about the noise, but we have nothing in writing and no one at a meeting,” Thomas said. “So we have no idea if it is one person complaining or half a dozen.”
The Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, located on Lusso Road, is technically in a rural residential area according to the town zoning code, Thomas said. While the park was in operation before the zoning code was introduced three years ago, he said, it could not be grandfathered in.
Thomas said part of the reason the town of Glen decided to enact a zoning code was to avoid a situation such as the one in Fonda, where a “gentleman’s agreement” is supposed to ensure no races start after midnight at the speedway.
“So basically, there are no rules,” he said.
The special permit granted to the Glen Ridge Motorsports Park is of indefinite length, meaning the owners do not have to come back and reapply periodically.
Thomas said the permit is attached to the property, meaning if the Hayes brothers sold the park, it could still be used for racing.
“[The Hayeses] are trying to be good neighbors,” Thomas said. “They put up [trees] to help block the noise [from the races], and they are literally in excess of half a mile from the nearest public road.”
Town council member Ronald Crewell said he would look into helping solve the problem with reckless drivers on the roads near the motorsports park. The town does have a patrolman on its budget, he said, so perhaps the solution is right there.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor
Town Councilman Ron Crewell, center, speaks at the Glen Planning Board meeting Thursday.