Ghent leaves racing restrictions in place

GHENT–The town has no plans to change its zoning code to allow motorcycle racing.

The board received 58 letters on the subject, and the issue did come up at the Town Board meeting earlier this month. But Deputy Supervisor Larry Van Brunt said in a brief phone interview last week, “We had a discussion and we decided not to pursue any changes at this time. We don’t make hasty decisions. We take a good a look at the issue, we discuss it, and we consult with the public.”

Patty Matheny Schrom, the leader of Ghent Citizens Against Noise Nuisance (CANN), a group opposed to motocross that formed last year, said, “That is what we hoped for. That was our goal. I think the town did the right thing. If the zoning code had been changed, it would have meant that motorized racing could have been done anywhere in the town.”

The zoning law that has been on the books for some 40 years states that motorized racing is not allowed  in R1 zones. But during the past two years the town has allowed two “mud bog” racing events and a grass drag race to take place at the site of the Meadowgreens Golf Course in West Ghent.

Last Fall Ghent Resident Michael Autrey got permission to stage a motocross event expected to attract as many as 500 competitors, but in approving the event the town Zoning Board of Appeals ignored advice from the town attorney. The event would have required the construction of a $27,000 race course and Mr. Autrey was seeking assurances that he could stage more than one event.

Carmen Nero, owner of the golf course, has said that he cannot make a profit from golf alone and has tried unsuccessfully in the past to stage a heavy metal concert and other events at the site. Last  summer’s grass drag, a snowless event for snow mobiles, took place in spite of a cease and desist order from Ghent’s code enforcement officer.

This year some residents feared that the Ghent board might change the zoning code to accommodate the motocross business, but at the Thursday, March 15 Town Board meeting the board took no action on zoning.

A court date for Mr. Nero on his alleged violation of the cease and desist notice has not been scheduled.

Reached by phone last week, Mr. Nero said that enforcing the zoning code might affect events at the County Fair and might outlaw the tractor pull at Ghent’s Town Day celebration.

“I don’t know what they plan to do about that,” he said.


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