Silo Speedway appeal denied by Kent Board of Adjustment

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Silo Speedway owner Ron Faison of Felton, left, and his attorney John Paradee of Dover confer during Thursday evening’s Board Of Adjustment Committee hearing inside the Kent County Levy Court main chamber. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Kent County Board of Adjustment members voted 6-1 to deny Pete Pizzadili’s appeal to put the brakes on the Silo Speedway in Felton Thursday night.

The BOA agreed the decision made by the county’s planning department to grant Silo owner Ron Faison a certificate of use for the property was correct based on the information that was provided to them.

“This is probably the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make being on this board,” said board member Ralph Taylor Jr,

Silo Speedway, already under construction, is bordered by Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery, owned by Mr. Pizzadili.

The property where the speedway will be built is zoned General Business.

The certificate of use approved by the county labels its proposed use as a “Commercial Recreation Facility.”

The county’s zoning code lists miniature golf, tennis, racquetball, handball courts, skateboard parks, skating rinks and batting cages as “Commercial Recreation Center” examples. It does not list race tracks.

Kris Connelly, planning supervisor for Kent County, said Fairlane Acres Speedway, an 1/8-mile kart track south of Dover Air Force Base off Kitts Hummock Road, which is similar to the Silo Speedway, is what they based the permit on for approval.

Fairlane Acres is in an Agricultural Residential zone.

“The use of that racetrack and this racetrack in our eyes as a vehicle racetrack is identical,” Mr. Connelly said. “It’s a dirt vehicle race track as a commercial recreation facility and that’s the consistency.

“After the decision was made in 2001, there weren’t any code changes during or after the application to further define the definition of the racetrack.

“This appeal is about what the code states and not about what the code should be,” he added.

“We don’t have the ability make arbitrary zoning decisions. That’s on Levy Court to change the code if they see fit to do so.”

Mr. Faison said the speedway would be used for training and competition for youth ages 8 and older, and adults.

“The vehicles used in these divisions will be no larger than four-cylinder engines, all with noise damping devices (mufflers),” he wrote in his application.

“The question before us is whether or not the staff made a proper decision,” said member Philip Sadler.

“I’m inclined to believe from what I heard that the decision was consistent with decisions that they generally make, and all the information to make that decision was before them.”

But Joan Denney, chairperson of the board, who voted for the appeal, said the raceway shouldn’t have been in a property that is zoned General Business.

“For general business district, what strikes me the most is the fact that is says it prohibits uses that may be detrimental to residential neighborhoods and communities for reasons such as odor, smoke, dust, fumes, fire vibrations, and noise and hazards conditions,” Ms. Denney said.

“There are three items in there that would strike me would be detrimental to the business. In the industrial section of the code the reasons for these things can be limited to conditional uses are so that conditions can be set to protect the neighboring properties.”

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

He said the speedway, which backs up to the vineyard, could harm his wedding business. Already, 30 weddings are planned for weekends next year, he said.

“If he is building the track, how can he stop the noise and the dust?” Mr. Pizzadili said. “I have nothing against him and I wish him nothing but the best.

“But he can’t do anything to please my problem for the weddings. I’m preparing for 2018 right now and he’s preparing for the track, I’m done. I’m finished. If the economy allows them to do that, then it is unfair.”

Mr. Taylor said he was torn with making his decision to deny the appeal.

“I believe Mr. Connelly used the information correctly that was provided to his staff,” Mr. Taylor said. “But this is going to have an impact on Mr. Pizzadili’s business.

“I’m an environmentalist and I believe there are going to be some impacts when it comes to his property. Mr. Faison did what was supposed to be done.

“No one is wrong here,” he added. “Mr. Connelly did everything he was supposed to do. Do I agree? No. I believe this is going to greatly impact Mr. Pizzadili’s business. However, Mr. Connelly did his job and did it appropriately, and that’s what we are here to decide.”

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