Silo Speedway revved up after win but 2nd appeal planned

24dsn speedway aerial shot by .

This aerial view shows in black where the quarter-mile racing oval is planned behind Delaware Auto Exchange on U.S. 13 north of Felton. Above the red bordering, the Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery is shown. The winery’s building and pavilion are the red rooftops. (Source: Kent County Department of Planning Services)

DOVER — With the caution flag furled after the Kent County Board of Adjustment rejected a challenge to Silo Speedway Thursday night, owner Ron Faison aims to charge ahead with the Felton race track.

“I think they made the right decision,” he said. “The county did their job diligently and did what they were supposed to do. We’re excited about the opportunity. We did everything that was asked of us and I think they got it right.”

Board members voted 6-1 Thursday night to deny Pete Pizzadili’s appeal to negate a certificate of use to the speedway.

Silo Speedway, already under construction behind Delaware Auto Exchange auction business on U.S. 13, is bordered by Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery, owned by Mr. Pizzadili.

Mr. Faison, who hopes to open in the spring, said the speedway would be used for training and competition for youth ages 8 and older and adults.

Mr. Pizzadili argued the dirt track, which backs up to the vineyard, could harm his wedding business. Already, 30 weddings are planned for weekends next year, he said.

He was disappointed with the decision and plans to appeal in Superior Court.

“I think they got it wrong,” Mr. Pizzadili said. “Their concern was making the right move and they didn’t. We’re going to appeal the decision. Hopefully, everything works out in our favor because I just feel this isn’t right.”

An issue of zoning

According to at least one Levy Court commissioner, the controversy between track and vineyard may indicate a need to clarify the county’s zoning language.

Commissioner Eric Buckson, who represents the 4th District, said some changes need to be made regarding the matter.

“I think as a Levy Court we need to follow through on the language in that zoning,” he said.

“I think we need to clearly identify if a race track should or shouldn’t be appropriate in the zoning, which would provide public comments to be heard in the Levy Court.

He said if that was the case then those comments could have been taken in consideration beforehand.

The speedway property behind Mr. Faison’s is zoned General Business. The county’s planning department granted Mr. Faison a certificate of use to build the speedway in October. That certificate labels the property’s 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.

The decision to grant the conditional use was based on a previous case.

In a December interview with the Delaware State News, Sarah Keifer, director of Kent County’s Department of Planning Services, said there was a lot of discussion internally” about the track’s impact.

“When we reviewed what he wanted to do, we looked at where it fit in the zoning ordinance because it isn’t specifically listed in the ordinance,”
she said. “Another section of the ordinance directs us to the manual of the Standard Industrial Classification Code.”

At the appeal hearing Thursday night, county planning supervisor Kris Connelly, said he looked at approval given in 2001 to Fairlane Acres Speedway, a 1/8-mile kart track south of Dover Air Force Base and off Kitts Hummock Road.

The hearing

“The BOA had to focus on if the decision made to allow the use was correct by the planning department,” Commissioner Buckson said.

“If this was a public hearing in Levy Court we would have been able to hear all these different things and then decided based off of that and other factors if the raceway was the right fit for the area.”

“I just think some changes need to be made moving forward,” he added.

Nearly 100 people filled Levy Court Chambers in the Kent County complex on Bay Road for the hearing.

Supporters of the Silo Speedway raised up signs during various times of the four-hourlong meeting.

People also were given the opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter as well.

Residents who sided with Mr. Pizzadili argued loud noises from the cars’ one- to four-cylinder engines will be a nuisance and the speedway could reduce the value of their property. Some also said they weren’t notified about the proposed speedway in advance.

People supporting Mr. Faison believe he did everything he was supposed to do. They also predicted the racetrack will bring more business to the area.

When it was time to vote on the matter the board reiterated the decision was based on whether the county’s planning department granting Mr. Faison a certificate of use for the property was correct based on the information provided to them.

“It’s extremely hard to make this decision,” board member James Saunders said during the meeting.

“But according to what the staff did, that’s what we’re asking about, which is if the staff made the correct decision and I believe they did.”

But Joan Denney, chairperson of the board and who voted for the appeal, said the interpretation of the 2001 hearing was inappropriate.

“I think its apples and oranges,” she said. “I think that we have jeopardized many residential properties and surrounding neighbors. We have a code in place that should have protected them.”

“The words of that usage aren’t in the zone and I want to protect that zoning because people paid for that,” she added.

“I want to protect the people around them and protect the community as a whole.”

Board member David Peterman disagreed, saying Fairlanes Acres was the only reference the planning department had on which to base its decision.

“I don’t know how they can go back any further and find anything else,” Mr. Peterman said. “I think that’s the far as they can go.

“I think there’s no more specific information than what they had.”

Mr. Pizzadili believes the board didn’t consider the affect the raceway not only will have on his business, but on surrounding neighborhoods as well.

“I don’t think they took that into consideration,” Mr. Pizzadili said. “There are many people besides myself that are affected by this decision.”

Mr. Faison said he respects the concerns of everyone and hopes to continue to  make strides on being a great neighbor moving forward.

“We made contact with some of the people who was against the raceway after the decision was made,” Mr. Faison said.

“I told them my door is always open for anyone that wants to come in and speak. I just want to be a good neighbor and do everything I can to make sure I continue to do that.”

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