Tamworth — September 28, 2007 — Crowd applause greeted a latest Club Motorsports Inc. defeat late Wednesday, as the controversial racecourse builder absorbed another rejection by town officials of its plans to develop Mount Whittier.
In a charged public hearing that stretched until 10 p.m., CMI brought forth new plans for three access roads to its three parcels on the north face, but with a surprise twist that apparently left Tamworth town planners balking. The plans, according to the town attorney, detailed something no one on the town level had seen in recent back-and-forth negotiations with the company: commercial storage building in the uplands.
Unlike a first rejection of CMI by the planning board in November 2006 — it then said no to the company’s full-scale $20 million private club with a three-mile driving track and bridges over streams — these blueprints were only for the roads and storage, revealing reduced wetlands impacts.
CMI has said it at least deserves to be able to get to the land it owns at the top of the Route 25 mountain, while maintaining it still intends to build the track and exclusive country club, now stalled in a legal fight. The company is appealing the board’s 2006 rejection of its full-scale plans in Carroll County Superior Court.
Planners Wednesday night voted 3-1 to reject the latest application, after considering whether to send it back to the town conservation commission for a preliminary review of the buildings.
“No one had ever seen the storage buildings,” said Sager, who moderated the “somewhat contentious” hearing. About 150 packed the bleachers, and 25 spoke, most against giving CMI a building permit, he said.
Some in favor of granting the so-called special-use permit, under the authority of the Tamworth Wetlands Ordinance, felt it was unfair to keep CMI from its land.
“They said, ‘Look, everybody has a right to access their property, these three accesses should be approved,’” Sager said.
Board member David Goodson cast the lone yes vote. “I can’t speak for David,” Sager said, adding that he surmised Goodson meant to be fair to CMI and the town. Four board members stepped away from the voting to “keep the peace,” Sager said. Past hearings have been plagued by accusations of bias, with CMI, and a court, identifying at least one board member as having made public statements against the track before being elected to potentially regulate it.
Tom Cleveland, Herb Cooper, selectmen’s representative Tom Abugelis, and board chair Dom Bergen agreed not to vote Wednesday, Sager said. Steve Grey, David Cluff and Howard Nordeen, he said, voted to reject the plans.
CMI President and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Dahmen and Vice President Jim Hoenscheid did not provide a statement to The Conway Daily Sun before deadline. Focus Tamworth press coordinator Kate Vachon Thursday said the citizens’ watchdog group, which has fought to block CMI in several legal cases, believed, “It was the planning board just doing its job.”
The court Thursday also lifted a stay that was on the CMI appeal of the 2006 rejection, and granted a request by Focus to intervene in the case on the town’s behalf, she said. Despite its three major federal and state environmentally-based building permits, the vote illustrates the company’s record of less success at the local government level.