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Local News

April 16, 2014

Speedway foes score new legal victory

The controversial New York Safety Track in Harpersfield will face significant limitations on attendance and engine sizes when it opens this year after it lost the latest round of a legal battle initiated by neighboring home owners.

“My clients should get their summers back now,” said Douglas Zamelis, the Springfield lawyer who represents more than 30 people who brought the lawsuit against the track and the town of Harpersfield last year.

His reaction came after a state appellate court in Albany refused to issue a stay on a decision handed down in January by Acting Delaware County Judge Brian Burns.

Efforts to reach the lawyer for the track, Jon Ward, of Uniondale, Long Island, were unsuccessful. He did not respond to a message left by a reporter at his office. A telephone number listed in Internet advertising for the track went unanswered.

Harpersfield town officials have been largely supportive of the track, arguing it has the potential to stimulate economic activity in the region. But some neighbors of the track have called the noise levels from revving motorcycle engines “mind-numbing and unbearable,” and argued that the track traffic disrupts their rural way of life. Harpersfield has no zoning code.

The track was dealt a blow when Burns, as part of his January ruling, annulled the operation agreement between the track and the town of Harpersfield. The track, after that agreement was executed, began to promote its events and market admission tickets to the general public. The track operators were also directed by Burns to submit a new site plan application to the town for the upcoming 2014 season and beyond.

The track has been continuing to drum up interest in the 2-mile oval track nestled at the site of a former airport by way of its social media presence and through a Groupon solicitation offering steep discounts for those who buy the offers. The Groupon packages being offered range from $149 to $289, with the latter deal including a one-year membership and “two all-day track rentals for a car.”

Zamelis voiced disappointment with the solicitations, saying: “That just shows that the track is doing business as usual and paying no respect to Judge Burns’ order.”

The town was granted an automatic stay of the Burns ruling as it pertains to its actions. Burns, who ruled that town officials violated the Open Meetings Law, directed the town to pay the legal fees of those who brought the lawsuit.

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