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Motocross proposal draws fire in Ghent

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GHENT — A large group from around the county turned out for a public hearing in Ghent October 20. Most who spoke expressed concern about noise and quality of life, which they felt would be adversely affected if plans for a motocross track at the Meadowgreens Golf Course are allowed to proceed.

“Mr. Nero continues to do whatever he wants to do even when he is being told not to,” said Patti Matheney Schrom, referring to Carmen Nero, one of the owners of the site. Ms. Matheney Schrom founded Ghent Citizens Against Noise Nuisance(CANN) and has collected 150 signatures protesting a decision by the Ghent Zoning Board of Appeals to issue a permit allowing a motocross track and event at Meadowgreens on Route 9H in W. Ghent.

Mr. Nero did not attend the meeting. Reached by phone afterward he declined to comment at this time.

“Our zoning enforcement officer said no snowmobile racing but they are doing it anyway. What can we do to get this enforced?” she asked. Ms. Matheney Schrom said that the ZBA did not have a quorum when it authorized the track, which she believes does not comply with the law. “How can we stop him?” she asked the Town Board.

The ZBA issued a permit in August after turning down an appeal at the end of July. The ZBA made its decision despite Town Attorney Ted Guterman’s determination that the use did not comply with town zoning regulations. The snowmobile race took place last weekend in spite of a cease and desist order issued by town Code Enforcement Officer Gil Raab.

Ms. Matheney Schrom said that her group’s only recourse might be to sue the town, which she said seemed unfair to her and other residents, since they would have to pay for both sides of the legal argument. She made that calculation because town taxes would have to be used to pay to defend the town against the suit.

The motocross track was first proposed for the Meadowgreens in July by Ghent resident Michael Autrey, who has leased land at the site. Mr. Autrey initially told the board he was interested in producing a single motocross event but later said he would like to have three such events. A recent “Mudd Bogging” truck racing event held at Meadowgreens was noisy, said some who were present at the hearing.

“You advised the ZBA that it was not an accepted use and they moved to allow it. It opens the town to lawsuits; it’s not a good idea,” James Caan of Ghent told the Town Board.

Others cited the impact of the Lebanon Valley Speedway in New Lebanon. “We’re going to request lower assessments,” said Ghent resident Alan Lillyquest.

Patricia Gravette of Taghkanic said the private motorcycle track there made her believe she could not sell her property in that town. “That’s a huge thing for working people. You should take action to avoid what happened in Taghkanic.” She urged residents to attend ZBA meetings and record them. “You are allowed to do it,” she said.

Some complained about the lack of a noise ordinance in the town. Supervisor Lawrence Andrews(R) said it would be difficult to enforce a noise ordinance.

“It’s hard to craft one that would solve the issue and not create others,” said Mr. Guterman.

The hearing last week was preceded statements from residents seeking to change the ZBA board membership to seven members from the current five, with a quorum requirement of four instead of three. “We need more opinions. A quorum of three is too small,” said Ms. Matheney Schrom. “It opens the town up to the risk of lawsuits.”

At its next meeting November 9, the Ghent ZBA reportedly will reconsider its decision on the motocross permit. 

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