Judge puts the brakes on Silo Speedway

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Grapes were first planted in 1993 at the Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery off Peach Basket Road in Felton. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — A Kent County Superior Court judge ordered a stop Friday to any plans that Silo Speedway owner Ron Faison had for opening a dirt racetrack in Felton.

Pete Pizzadili, owner of the neighboring Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery, has fought the plans to build a racetrack next to his business in Felton for almost a full year.

In issuing his decision, Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. said a couple of terms in the Kent County Code did not match up — and that led to the reversal of the Kent County Board of Adjustment’s decision to allow the racetrack to be built.

Judge Witham wrote: “The [Superior] Court finds that the term ‘racetracks’ encompasses vehicle racetracks, that the term ‘commercial recreational facility’ does not encompass vehicle racetracks, and that results from the SIC [Standard Industrial Classification] manual must be compared to the stated purpose of the zoning district before a non-listed use is allowed.

“Based on these findings, the decision of the Kent County Board of Adjustment is REVERSED. IT IS SO ORDERED.”

The decision pleased Mr. Pizzadili, who hosts numerous weddings and other events at his business throughout the year. He and several neighbors cited reasons such as noise, dust and traffic as potential problems with the track.

“I am very satisfied. I don’t know what to say,” Mr. Pizzadili said. “Justice was done, but it cost me a lot of money.

“I have nothing against racing, don’t get me wrong. But don’t put a racetrack in my dining room. That’s what was going on. I feel pretty good about the court’s decision.”

Mr. Pizzadili has invested in the winery and vineyards on his property off Peach Basket Road, just north of the town of Felton, for more than 20 years. He and his late brother, Tony, first planted grapes there in 1993.

In January the Kent County Board of Adjustment voted 6-1 to deny Mr. Pizzadili’s appeal to negate a certificate of use to the dirt track, but he went on to file a suit in Superior Court against Kent County and LTR Properties, the listed owners of Silo Speedway.

The Pizzadili Partners told the Delaware State News last May that the Kent County Board of Adjustment errantly concluded that an auto racetrack is allowed in a General Business zoning district, and does not conform to expressed uses referenced in county code.

It turned out that Judge Witham agreed with them after releasing what led to his decision in a 28-page document on Friday.

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Silo Speedway owner Ron Faison of Felton, left, and his attorney John Paradee of Dover confer during a Board Of Adjustment Committee hearing inside the Kent County Levy Court main chamber in January. (Delaware State News file photo)

CJ Faison said his family was stunned by the decision in a Facebook post before he went to compete in his super late model racecar at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar on Saturday night.

“I would like to personally thank everyone for their support you have shown the track, my family and myself,” CJ, son of Silo Speedway owner Ron Faison, wrote. “I’m still in shock. But please do us a favor and support your local dirt track. They need your support just as much as we needed yours.”

Ron Faison has said over and over again that he was building Silo Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt-track facility, as a place to give families a “fun and affordable place to go.”

Tucked behind the Faison’s Delaware Auto Exchange facility at 10182 S. Dupont Highway, the track was scheduled to open on April 15. Races were set to take place most Friday nights throughout the year until Nov. 18-19.

However, court action halted the facility from ever dropping a green flag – and now it doesn’t appear as if it will ever happen.

Silo Speedway had been scheduled to host weekly feature races in TUSA Mod Lites, USAC SpeedSTR, Tobias Slingshots, Delmarva Chargers Cars and Delmarva Super Trucks divisions.

Mr. Pizzadili insists he has no problems with racing. He said he just didn’t want it to interfere with his winery, where he hosts around 35 weddings a year. Rehearsal dinners normally take place on Friday nights, the same time the races would have taking place next door.

“I’m not against racing. I am not and never have been. I even sponsor a car,” Mr. Pizzadili said. “But when for the sake of racing you hurt another business, then that’s when I’m against it.”

Ron Faison had estimated it would cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to build Silo Speedway. Much of the facility has already been built, including digging out the track’s surface and even putting a press box into place.

Now, it appears as if Silo Speedway’s hope of hosting weekly races has been stuck in the mud.

Mr. Faison had expected crowds of around 600 people to attend events at Silo Speedway, comparable to attendance received at mixed martial arts events at Delaware Auto Exchange.

On Saturday, Silo Speedway’s Facebook page read, in what it labeled a “non-official statement” – “It is with deep regret that we have to inform you fans and supporters that Silo Speedway has been shut down due to the Superior Court’s ruling to reverse Kent County’s decision to allow us to race.
“Silo Speedway followed all laws and regulations as due diligence, but unfortunately the decision was still made against us.”

Mr. Faison said last November that he was building the track for his daughter Logan so that she and other children her age would have a chance to race with an even playing field in safe vehicles.

“We’re excited about it because we need affordable racing and somewhere for the kids to go race, so they’ve got the stepping stone to get into the big cars,” he said at the time. “My 6-year-old daughter [Logan] has as much to do with me building a track as anything because she doesn’t have anywhere to go run at a place where she can learn to race.”

Mr. Faison said his plans were to have the same kinds of experiences with his daughter that racing has provided for him and his son CJ, who has risen to compete in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Camping World Trucks Series.

Unfortunately for the Faisons, it doesn’t appear as if those experiences will happen at Silo Speedway following Judge Witham’s decision.

However, Mr. Pizzadili and many neighbors of the speedway see the decision to stop the racetrack as a good thing.

“The race track is right on top of my place,” Mr. Pizzadili said. “This is unfair that a person can do that to another business. When a person tries to destroy another person’s business, that’s not right, no matter how you look at it.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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