Pizzadili cites code errors in Silo Speedway lawsuit

DOVER — Appealing to another authority, counsel for a Felton winemaker opposed to construction of an auto racetrack next to his business argued its potential impact goes against a General Business zoning district purpose of prohibiting “uses which may be detrimental to residential neighborhoods and communities …”

Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery filed the suit on March 29 in Kent County Superior Court against the Kent County Board of Adjustment and LTR Properties, which is building the Ron Faison-owned Silo Speedway next to U.S. 13. In October 2015 Kent County officials approved the project, which Pizzadili opposes.

Mr. Faison has previously declined comment to the Delaware State News on the matter.

In an opening brief explaining Pizzadili’s claim, counsel questioned whether the Board of Adjustment’s decision to approve Silo Speedway while considering it a commercial recreational facility was a legal error.

While batting cages, handball and racquetball courts and skateboard parks were among the ventures listed in Kent County Code as commercial recreation facilities, racetracks of any kind are not mentioned, Pizzadili argued. The impact generated from a racetrack are quite different that the facilities listed, according to the suit.

“The use of property for an auto racetrack is not consistent with the stated purpose of the General Business zoning district to prohibit uses that create detrimental impacts such as noise, dust, fumes and vibrations,” Pizzadili representation maintain.

Citing case law, Pizzadili argued a racetrack can only be permitted as a conditional use in a Limited Industrial zoning district. According to the suit, the Standard Industrial Classification Manual “is not applicable because a racetrack is an express conditional use in the Limited Industrial zoning district and a ‘racetrack’ includes an auto racetrack.”

The suit cited a “Racetracks” section in Kent County Code that only permits racetracks as a conditional use in Limited Industrial zoning districts.

“But the Board disregarded that Code language on the basis that it believed that ‘Racetracks’ referred only to horse racetracks …,” the suit reads.

“Thus, notwithstanding the Racetracks Section, the Board concluded that auto racetracks were a use that was nowhere covered in the Code.”

According to Pizzadili, the county then sought the Standard Industrial Classification manual to determine how the project should be categorized.

The result, the suit states was that “the Board and Department presumably concluded that ‘Amusement Recreation Services’ was close enough” to warrant classification as a commercial recreational facility, which brought it under General Business zoning district guidelines.

Pizzadili believes that “the use of property for an auto racetrack, which causes detrimental impacts such as noise, dust, fumes and vibrations, is not consistent with the purposes of the General Business zoning district.

“Moreover, a racetrack is permitted in the Limited Industrial zoning district only as a conditional use.

“Because an auto racetrack use creates greater impacts than a horse racetrack use and because the Code permits a horse racetrack only as a conditional use, interpreting ‘racetrack’ (in Kent County Code) as including an auto racetrack ‘adopt(s) the meaning best designed to achieve the Code’s underlying purpose (and) to achieve a sensible result in the public interest.’ “

According to court documents, Mr. Faison, on behalf of LTR Properties, completed the application for a certificate of use on Oct. 26, 2015, and the Kent County Department of Planning Services issued the zoning certificate two days later, on Oct. 28, 2015.

Pizzadili appealed to the Kent County Board of Adjustment on Nov. 25, 2015. After a public hearing on Jan. 21, the board issued its decision — by a 6-1 vote — to deny the appeal on Feb. 18.

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