In U-Turn, Racetrack Developer Will Seek Local Permit

Tamworth — July 30, 2006 — Nearly two years to the day since Club Motorsports Inc. pulled its application from a local review board, the Derry developer will return to Tamworth next month to ask for permission to build its massively contentious high-performance driving club.

Company president and CEO, Lloyd Dahmen, said CMI would have had its plans in to the planning board weeks earlier, as once was predicted, if not for the high level of scrutiny he expects the application will receive from his critics, particularly those in the citizen’s group Focus: Tamworth.

“We are ready to apply,” Dahmen said by telephone Tuesday.

“Since it’s such a contentious thing and it’s going to have all the lawyers in the world looking at it,” he said the company took extra time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.

Club Motorsports Inc. has yet to explain why it withdrew its application for a special-use permit under the town’s wetlands ordinance just two days before a much-anticipated Aug. 25, 2004 planning board review.

In the mystery-shrouded aftermath, CMI officials said only that the company’s legal team decided a local wetlands permit wasn’t necessary. Since then, a two-year legal standoff with Focus ensued.

The group sued to force CMI to re-file, and won. CMI has filed an appeal, but also has set about redrawing its maps for a date with planners, who will review the package on Aug. 23.

Focus: Tamworth, a citizen’s group opposing the proposed racetrack at Mount Whittier, said development of 250 acres for the racetrack could harm the local watershed. A wetlands permit review is billed as an opportunity for surrounding towns to consider what regional impact if any the proposed $14 million motor sports park may have on the wide-reaching Ossipee aquifer.

This go-around, Dahmen joked about missing a deadline to reach the planning board in July. “The (copy) machine could not make the deadline,” the president joked, excusing himself for missing the board’s submissions cut-off date for the July meeting, Dahmen said he expects the board’s decision by fall. Either side could appeal. Returning before the board under an ordinance which CMI once spurned under its old leadership, Dahmen said he decided “we shouldn’t just go thumb our noses at everybody.”

But Focus spokesperson, Kate Vachon, said CMI is coming back for the town’s OK only because the court forced them.

“They applied because the Superior Court said they have to,” Vachon said.

In the meantime, the company has earned three major federal and state environmental permits. N.H. Department of Environmental Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that the club and its three-mile driving course, planned over a major aquifer and near the Bearcamp River, would not damage wetlands.

Focus has fought to bring the two-phase building project under local regulations. It says town wetlands rules are stricter than those imposed by the state or federal agencies. CMI has been at the middle of an emotional division between groups of locals — some desperately want the track, others desperately don’t.

Dahmen still disagrees with the need for a wetlands permit in Tamworth, but nonetheless, he will soon file for the August review. “I believe enough people on the planning board have open minds,” he said.

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