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Thread: Race Tracks and Zoning

  1. #1

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    Race Tracks and Zoning

    Anyone out there find themselves dealing with Horse Racing Tracks much? I am looking for any info or links where I can find case studies, litigation or resolutions with regard to zoning that have STOPPED a thoroughbred or harness raceway from being developed. Any help, this is a tough one! Big $$$, ya know?

  2. #2
    Does the facility include slots? This turned out to be the deciding factor in an example I'm somewhat familiar with.

    An existing and long-standing raceway in the City of Barrie (Ontario, Canada) was denied permission by the City to add slots. Next thing you know, the raceway packed up and built a multi-million dollar facility, including slots, in a municipality next door (Town of Innisfil).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    No zoning ordinance I know of stops (legally) race tracks any more than football stadiums. If you have concerns about tracks, hopefully your zoning code addresses those through some sort of performance standards. Think out your concerns, and you are on your way--especially if it is a conditional use process. In the last three years I have had a car track and quarterhorse track develop in my town. Our zoning code anticipated such outdoor recreation facilities, and had a conditional use permit process in place. I did not try to stop them, I worked on mitigating their potential negative effects.

  4. #4

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    Racing

    Thanks so far-

    It isn't so much that we want to stop this thing from going through, on the contrary. I am hoping to find where potential conflicts may be. There is a unique circumstance. The Z.O. would allow for the track and the stables and even the quarters for the workers and associated staff. The facility would not be hooked up to all utilities, it would manage all of its own waste and water. The problems may arise out of the proposed simulcasting facility. The area is currently zoned 3/4 Ag. Residential and the remainder is MR. They will be going for a downzoning in the multifamily zone to permit the horse related facilities. However, where could the simulcasting facility fit in? Doesn't look like there is any rush to create a new zoning classification for this. It just doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, no classification allows or forbids it as a use. In addition, the master plan contradicts the Z.O., in that it calls for the area to remain off the water grid and stay mainly agricultural and rural (contradiction: remember the Multi family acreage, although it should make the downzoning a breeze)) Strange. On top of all of this business, wetlands, but I think they can be designed around. i am just trying to get prepared for the next two years while this is likely going to be tied up. It is going to get messy, I think, and I personally am still split on the issue. Thanks again-

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Thanks for the details. The main concerns with a track are location and access. My analogy to a football stadium applies to the traffic problems. Talk with a traffic control officer in a football town, not just their traffic engineer.

    But your issue appears to be more with simulcasting than a race track. Remember that if a land use is not permitted, it is prohibited under most zoning cases. Simulcasting is gambling more than sport and, sigh, the state got involved. You need to research the legislation and your state court cases to see if simulcasting has pre-empted local zoning. You may find that it is "deemed" a legitimate use accessory to the principal track use.

    When that issue is resolved, you can get on with the details--such as the request to not pave the parking area that you are certain to get.

  6. #6

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    Thanks, Mike. Seems you are dead on, the biggest obstacles are those related to the simulcasting pavillion. I am at an impass. I am not sure the use is appropriate to the area, but there really is no growth anywhere around it, so I guess it will be fine. I am going to do a little more reasearch on the matter, per your suggestions, I appreciate them. I have a little time to pass now, while the wetlands consultants do their work. I am pretty confident that they will deem about 1/3rd of the site a protected wetland, it hasn't been flagged for many years, so we will have to see, the whole thing may go away if the wetlands are all over.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I hope your wetlands protection program is better than one state I worked in. To "mitigate" destruction of 14 acres of wetlands for a regional mall, the state allowed the developer to purchase and donate to a university another 28 acres of wetlands--three counties away.

  8. #8

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    Yuk. Here in MI, the same rule is true, 2:1 ratio, and the mitigated wetlands must be in the same watershed. This case is in a huge watershe, so it could easily be at least 2 couties away. Apparently, if these guys were able to get a wetlands permit from the DEQ, it would be one of the largest ever issued in the state. They really don't have any land lined up to mitigate to, the area is really built out,so I am not sure what they will come up with. Way it looks, the DEQ will give them about 1/2 of what they really want, so we will see. I am pretty sure they asked for twice as much as they really need, so I guess those sneaky developer people will likely skim by again. Hmm. If it just wasn't so big, and in such a sensitive site, and wasn't a gamb;ing facility, and didn't need 1000 parking spaces, and wasn't surrounded by single family, I could easily throw 100% of my support toward this thing! Arrgh. I seem to be in a position where I am forced to compromise my ethics lately. Thanks again-

  9. #9

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    bump

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