Tamworth — May 31, 2007 — In a surprise early ruling announced by the victors here Tuesday, the N.H. Supreme Court ordered that racetrack builder Club Motorsports Inc. must earn a local wetlands permit before breaking ground on Mount Whittier, setting the stage for a June public hearing with the embattled developer.The state’s highest court, in a ruling once expected as late as September, said that CMI must comply with local wetlands regulations, despite its already having earned state and federal approvals, citizens’ group Focus: Tamworth announced.
The order upheld a 2005 superior court decision in a successful lawsuit brought by Focus that had been appealed by CMI on several grounds, including that the company already had numerous environmental permits it said were based on stricter criteria.
The next chapter in the development battle opens June 27, when CMI returns to Tamworth to to present tuned-down plans to pave a road to its 251 mountainside acres. After town planners last year rejected a first set of plans for an elaborate 3.1-mile European-style road course and driving club, the company said it would seek permission only for an “access road” to explore “development options.”
CMI in a separate suit has asked a judge to overturn the planning board rejection, and has complained that several local officials have demonstrated bias against the highly controversial project.
Company president Lloyd Dahmen reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon said he could not comment on the Supreme Court decision until studying the newest court papers.
“I am aware of the ruling, but haven’t even read it through,” he said.
Focus spokesperson Charles Greenhalgh touted the decision as a victory for 50 towns he said joined the suit against CMI.
“This is truly a victory for local control,” Greenhalgh said. ”Now the citizens of Tamworth and every other city and town in New Hampshire can decide issues like this according to the ordinances passed in their own towns, even when those ordinances are more stringent than state and federal requirements.”