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Wilna to present updated recreational law

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CARTHAGE — The Wilna Town Council, after tweaking a recreational law at Monday’s meeting, has decided to send it back to the Jefferson County Planning Board and hold another public hearing next month.

The issue first came before the board a year ago, when residents on Selos Road complained about a racetrack built on the property of Scott A. Cannan. Mr. Cannan previously said it was built to have a place for his daughters to practice riding their four-wheelers and dirt bikes. However, neighbors told the board they feared the track would be used for commercial purposes.

At the October 2011 board meeting, a 180-day moratorium put a stop to the use of the track and prohibited any others being built in the town. The moratorium, which is still in effect, has been extended several times while the town board and the Planning Board develop rules for the construction of recreational facilities.

During the November meeting, the board agreed to add an industrial district and two business districts to the law, since the recreational law also covers such things as theaters, bowling alleys, dance schools and golf courses.

The county Planning Board questioned whether more clarity was needed “to the requirement that a race course business show that they have adequate parking and adequate sanitary facilities.”

Town attorney Mark G. Gebo suggested the board leave the clause as written to allow the town Planning Board “some discretion.” He pointed out that any development would have to go through site plan approval, which would cover those items.

“Each thing brought through the board will be addressed differently, depending on what it is,” Supervisor Paul H. Smith said.

The town board agreed to limit the noise level to six decibels above ambient, measured from the property line. Mr. Gebo said this level is the standard one the state Department of Environmental Conservation uses.

“If someone wanted to build a track next to my house, I’d want a sound barrier so it didn’t drive me crazy,” Mr. Smith said.

The board also amended the timeframe during which an outdoor racetrack could be used.

Sunrise to sunset was suggested; however, Mr. Gebo pointed out this would be hard to enforce.

“Sunset changes every day,” he said, suggesting setting “absolute hours.”

Councilman Michael F. Storms suggested 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to which Charles Florence said from the audience, “There’s no place to hide from it with 12 hours.”

Mr. Smith also suggested that a track could, by permit only, extend the hours for a day of racing.

Mr. Gebo told the board that it need not hold another public hearing if it felt no substantial changes had been made to the recreational law.

Mr. Florence asked whether, as had been previously suggested, the track on Selos Road would have to be returned to its original state since it had been built illegally without a permit as determined by the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. Gebo said this action would have to be taken up with the state Supreme Court since the town justice could only apply fines for noncompliance. The attorney said this action would cost the town a minimum of $1,300, and as much as $3,000 to $5,000 if there were appeals.

The supervisor requested the attorney make the request to Mr. Cannan.

“I’m not hopeful for voluntary compliance,” Mr. Gebo said. “If you start down this road, you have to be committed. If not, you look like a toothless tiger.”

He pointed out with the moratorium in place, the track could not be used.

Mr. Gebo said it would be up to the Planning Board whether the landowners could now submit a site plan.

“If this law goes through, I am not sure if the property can comply,” he said.

The public hearing on the law is set for 6:45 p.m. Dec. 10, with the board’s monthly meeting to follow.

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