Application flaws stall raceway discussion
Publication Salisbury Post
Date October 06, 2006
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Brief By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

SPENCER -- A public hearing to consider granting a conditional use permit for High Rock International Raceway stopped before the public got a chance to comment.

Dave Risdon, owner of High Rock Properties, made an openi

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

SPENCER -- A public hearing to consider granting a conditional use permit for High Rock International Raceway stopped before the public got a chance to comment.

Dave Risdon, owner of High Rock Properties, made an opening statement about his application at the Spencer Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting Thursday.

Then the attorney for the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association told board members Risdon's application wasn't complete.

This makes the second time the application has been considered. The town originally approved the application but recently asked Risdon to reapply because they wanted to make sure the proper notice was given.

The historic association filed suit against the town on Sept. 1, claiming in part that public notice requirements weren't met.

Town Manager Larry Smith explained that the board found a discrepancy in its ordinance and wanted to start the process over to make sure it wouldn't be an issue in court.

Risdon's application stated that three buildings were proposed on the property. Darrell Fruth, the preservation group's attorney, questioned him about condominiums also proposed. Risdon said he proposed 100 condominiums, with six in each building. Fruth asked Risdon how that could add up to only three buildings. Risdon explained that he thought the application was asking about the number of commercial structures, not residences.

Fruth told board members that, since the condominiums weren't included with the original application, two weeks notice would be required if Risdon wished to include them in the plans.

Risdon told board members that the numbers of residences and buildings on the property were included on the site plan, which is part of the application.

Board Chairman Jeff Morris asked Risdon if there was a legend on the site plan showing the structures are condominiums. A legend couldn't be located.

Fruth also said he submitted a letter to town hall asking for all information on the raceway project and he wasn't provided with a boundary survey.

The traffic plan Risdon provided with the application was also incomplete, according to Fruth. The application requires that the applicant show the location and direction of parking spaces. Risdon's plans show only a parking area.

Halfway through Fruth's questioning, Morris said, based on deficiencies in the application, "I am going to recommend the applicant withdraw his application voluntarily and asked to be rescheduled."

Fruth told board members this was the second time he and the historic association had to come to town hall and "do his work." He said he didn't want the process to continue.

Morris asked Fruth what he was asking the board to do, since he stated earlier that he needed two weeks notice and later stated he didn't want the process to go on.

Fruth asked the board to deny the application and make Risdon wait one year before reapplying.

Morris asked if Fruth had any other objections. Fruth said he did but based on Morris's recommendation he wasn't sure if he should continue.

Frank McGuire, Risdon's business partner, spoke out from the audience saying, "Let's hear it all so we can fix it."

Morris went through Fruth's objections again and said, "my recommendation would be to address completion and adequacy of the application in another setting."

Not identifying condominiums on the application is "a glaring problem," Morris said.

The Zoning Board denied Fruth's motion to make Risdon wait a year before reapplying.

"Obviously we attempted to be as complete as possible," Risdon said. "...if the application is not complete in any substantial way we'll be happy to withdraw."

Before the meeting adjourned, Morris told the audience that any correspondence concerning the raceway, or any matter, should be sent to board members through town hall. He and other board members have received correspondence from the public at their offices and homes.

After the meeting, Risdon told a Post reporter that he would continue with efforts to get the plan approved.

"I don't feel these procedural issues can stop us," he said. Risdon said he plans to work with the planning department to complete the application.

"I think in some ways we've included too many things," Risdon said. He talked about developing a simple plan that would meet all the requirements.

"I'm not bitter and I'm not upset," he said.

Risdon said he still had plenty of time to get everything taken care of and start construction on the raceway in March. It's set to open in February 2008, and Risdon said he didn't expect that to change.

As for the historic association's opposition, "none of these issues they've addressed have real substance," he said.

Risdon said he felt comfortable that the issues of substance are on his side.

Ann Brownlee, president of Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association, said she was pleased that the board is requiring the application be complete. "The ball is in Dave Risdon's court to complete the information and come back. We'll have to see what he does," she said.

Brownlee had a stack of information ready to present during the public hearing, but like many others who attended the meeting, didn't get to speak.

"This is starting to be like a soap opera," she said.

The next episode will be 7 p.m. Nov. 2 when the Zoning Board of Adjustment meets again. They'll try the public hearing for the third time.

Also during the meeting:

* Board members voted to grant a conditional use permit for a motorcycle training area proposed by Aaron Stevenson, owner of Cornerspeed Riderschool. The "Cornerspin" school will be located at the corner of Hackett and Willowcreek Roads and will provide advanced safety instruction. No one spoke in opposition during the public hearing.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com