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March 28, 2014

Judges to decide motorcycle track's scope

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Whether the New York Safety Track gets to operate as it did last year at its 2.2-mile oval-shaped motorcycle training facility in Harpersfield will be determined by a panel of state appellate judges in less than two weeks, an attorney for track opponents said Thursday.

Neighbors opposed to motorcycle racing at the site of a former airfield won the latest round in the legal skirmish, when state Appellate Judge John C. Egan Jr. refused to issue a stay of a ruling by Acting Delaware County Supreme Court Judge Brian Burns issued in January. Burns had prohibited the facility from allowing racing there and placed limits on attendance and on motorcycle engine size, keeping down the loud roar of the machines.

A full five-judge panel of appellate division judges will review the issue on April 7, Zamelis said. If that panel puts a stay on the Burns’ decision, then the track “can race with impunity” because the next round of court activity won’t occur until after the summer season has ended, Zamelis said.

“I don’t think the track has a compelling case,” he said.

Efforts to contact John Ward, the lawyer for the track, were unsuccessful. He did not return a message left for him at his law office in Uniondale on Long Island.

The track’s web site indicates the facility will be open this year beginning May 3.

“The court case is all resolved, and we will be open this season,” a young man who declined to give his name said after answering the telephone line listed on the track web site.

Noting he is 17 years old, he declined to answer additional questions.

The track manager, Greg Lubinitsky, could not be reached for comment.

Judge Burns, in the January ruling, annulled the operation agreement between the track and the town of Harpersfield. After that agreement was executed, the track began to actively promote its events and market admission tickets to the general public. Burns also directed the track operators to submit a new site plan application to the town for the upcoming 2014 season and beyond.

The town was granted an automatic stay of the Burns ruling as it pertains to its actions.

Burns had also limited the track operators to the activities that were outlined when the site plan was first approved by the town planning board — not the one that would later be modified and broadened the scope of the activities allowed there. the ruling effectively placed limits on attendance and on motorcycle engine size.

Kitty Ballard of Davenport, who lives within earshot of the noise from the motorcycle engines and is one of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit last year against the town of Harpersfield and the motorcycle track, said she and her neighbors are hoping the appellate division refuses to grant a stay to the track operators.

“If the appellate division lets them operate this summer, the traffic is going to be horrendous and the noise is going to be horrendous,” said Ballard, now a Davenport town board member.

Harpersfield town officials have been supportive of the track, calling it a potential engine for new economic activity in Delaware County.