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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 10, 2009

Westerlo motocross doubtful within the next year

By Zach Simeone

WESTERLO — Heavy equipment continues to move earth this week at the Shaver Brothers property on Route 85 in Westerlo, but the work being done is unrelated to the controversial motocross track proposal, according to the town’s code enforcement officer, who doubts that there will even be a public hearing on the motocross project before next spring.

“They’re taking a hill out and making a grassy area,” said Ed Lawson, Westerlo’s code enforcement officer and zoning administrator, of the Shavers. “It’s separate from the land where the track is going, and they’re filling in a pond right there, so it’s perfectly legal what they’re doing.”

He added that no permits for the motocross course’s construction will be given unless the Shavers meet state requirements, since tributaries at the site flow into the Basic Creek watershed; the reservoir supplies Albany’s drinking water.

The town, which currently has no law regulating motocross, has still not received a formal application from Doyle and Trent Shaver for the project. After beginning construction of the motocross track without approaching the town about their plan, the Shaver brothers were issued a notice of violation of stormwater management regulations by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and a cease and desist notice by Lawson.

The Shavers had, however, surveyed neighbors about the idea of bringing motocross to the area, and got mixed responses. Some don’t want the noise or dirt, while others think that such a project would provide a safe space for having fun and keeping kids off the streets.

A website called RiderPlanet USA has neighbors worried because it depicts a staging area near the Shaver residence, and noise from ongoing construction continues to bother them.

“We didn’t have anything to do with that,” said Doyle Shaver this week of the information on RiderPlanet USA. “Anyone can put anything up on that website. Maybe someone in support of it put it up there.”

Shaver went on to confirm that www.carriagewaymx.com, a website that sparked a heated discussion at last week’s town board meeting, is indeed the Shaver brothers’ website.

Another topic that kicked up dust at the meeting last week was a racetrack that went out of business decades ago in South Westerlo. A local law was passed to prevent it from re-opening.

“Back in the ’50s, they had a racetrack where the South Westerlo Park is,” Lawson told The Enterprise this week. “It pre-dated the town zoning law, which went into effect in 1989. Eventually, it became town land, and then they didn’t have to worry about it anymore.”

While Lawson was unsure of why the law itself was passed, he speculated, since the racetrack was near housing and a creek, that it faced the same issues as Carriageway Motocross.

Meanwhile, videos on YouTube from July show an ATV rider on a “Carriageway Motocross track” in upstate New York, but the terrain is unkempt and littered with plant life.

The work currently being done is related to an ineffective culvert pipe that has caused problems since before the Shavers purchased the 93 acres, according to Lawson.

“They’re correcting an existing situation and making it better, actually,” Lawson said of the Shavers. “The problem is, there was a pipe on the property that was too small; the pipe became silted in, because of runoff from stormwater and natural flow of water that was collecting in the pond, which they’re currently filling in, and the pipe got plugged, so it was not an outlet anymore. So, it was just running across their driveway and across 85 during storm conditions, so they’re in the process of correcting that situation.”

The work being done to remedy this problem is taking place at the property where the Shavers’ home is located, which has a separate deed from the intended site for the motocross track, so the cease and desist order issued by the town and the notice of violation from the DEC do not apply, said Lawson.

“We had a little pond next to the driveway that got plugged up, and it was flooding our driveway and our basement,” said Shaver. “The main thing is, we’re respecting the town’s cease and desist order. I know the neighbors probably think we’re still working on the track; we’re not. We’re doing things as right as we can.”

Rick Georgeson, spokesman for the DEC, told The Enterprise that, if the ongoing construction were related to the motocross track, it would be in violation of the cease and desist order, even though it is technically on a separate property.

“It could be considered part of the same [stormwater] disturbance whether it’s the same parcel or not, because it’s part of the same project,” said Georgeson. “So, what the motocross needs to do is put a site plan together, and come to us with a plan of what exactly they plan on doing with the property. Once we see that plan, we’ll have a better idea of what kind of stormwater plan they need,” he said.

Nonetheless, the cease and desist order is in effect, said Lawson, “and I have no reason to pull them into court or anything like that because they’re in compliance with it.”

No activity is planned for the rest of this year regarding the track, Lawson said.

“It’s too late for anything, and they have to get their permits in place,” Lawson went on. Without valid permits from the state’s departments of environmental conservation and transportation, and letters from the Albany Water Board, he said, “There’s no way we would schedule a public hearing, or entertain a special-use permit…because they have tributaries that go into the Basic Creek watershed.”

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