Developer pushes racetrack to U.S. 40 businesses

September 18, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Developer D. Richard Rothman brought a glossy site plan to lunch, but business people from the U.S. 40 corridor expressed concerns about noise, traffic, taxes, construction costs and labor issues associated with Maryland Motorsports Park, his proposed racetrack outside Havre de Grace.

Mr. Rothman, president of Suburban Homes in Baltimore, and design engineer Jim Tevebaugh touted the racetrack project to about 50 members of the U.S. 40 Business Association who had invited the track's developers to the luncheon meeting at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood.

The auto racetrack, Mr. Rothman said, "will bring plenty of business into the county. We're trying to do something here that is cutting edge."

The proposed project is for a $10 million multipurpose motor sports complex on 550 acres off U.S. 40, about 1 1/2 miles from downtown Havre de Grace and within 10 miles of three Interstate exits.

It would include a 2.5-mile road course designed to specifications suited to everything from vintage cars to Indy, stock and Formula One cars, and an amphitheater for music festivals and picnicking areas.

Events are expected to draw about 40,000 visitors.

Gabe Ingrassia, the association's president, asked the developer about noise and traffic problems that the track could generate.

Mr. Tevebaugh estimated that there would be a 50-50 split when traffic would leave the area after events, with half of the vehicles going west and the rest heading east.

He said arrivals would be staggered for scheduled events.

There also will be no drain on the local water and sewer infrastructure, Mr. Tevebaugh said, because deluxe portable toilet facilities will be trucked to the grounds for events.

Mr. Rothman used a graph to explain the proposed racing park's usage. The graph detailed 17 days for racing events and 209 days when the park would be unoccupied.

The remaining time would be filled with such activities as professional driving schools and a bluegrass festival, Mr. Rothman said.

He and Mr. Tevebaugh assured the association that the track would use local labor, at prevailing wages, to build, and the facility would contribute taxes to Harford County.

After the meeting, members of the business association were cautious about speaking in favor of the project.

There is another catch to the plan: the land is not zoned for a racetrack.

The developers have an option to buy the property, which is zoned industrial/residential and agricultural. They want Havre de Grace to annex it so that local zoning can be amended to accommodate the racetrack.

Havre de Grace Mayor Gunther Hirsch has appointed a 14-member task force to examine the project and report its findings to the City Council in four to six months. If the city council favors annexing the land, the Harford County Council would be asked to approve a waiver for a zoning change on it.

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