Harpersfield Planning Board wants applicant to clarify plan

Jan. 18—The town of Harpersfield Planning Board wants a concise plan for the proposed expansion of the New York Safety Track and wants to visit the site before it makes any more decisions on the environmental assessment form it is considering.

Mountaintop Airfield LLC, owner of the track, has applied to construct a second mini-track, new staging area and change the scope of its approved land use activities to expand the type of vehicles to be used on the existing track and extend the time and days of racing and training.

Under the proposed new scope of use, there would be up to 20 riders using the existing track and 20 riders using the new track at any given time for a total 40 riders at once for racing events. When instruction is taking place, there would also be up to five instructors on each track at once for total 50 riders and instructors.

During a special meeting Jan. 17, members discussed the lack of the track's owners or their lawyers' presence at the meetings, numerous changes to the plan and how they will be able to visit the site.

Planning board members questioned what they were even supposed to be voting on.

"I think one of my biggest concerns is we're getting different owners, different lawyers, different contractors or engineers from the start of the project until now," Dusty King said. "We have a ton of paperwork, so what are we agreeing to?"

Attorney Allyson Phillips of the Albany law firm of Young/Sommer, who works with the planning board, said "And more importantly, what are we reviewing?"

Ned Brower of the county Planning Department said the county board has requested a revised site plan for the proposed project. Planning board members agreed they would like one, too.

They would also like to visit the site. Phillips talked about correspondence between her and the lawyer representing the owners of the safety track. The lawyer asked why the board members want to visit the site. She said the planning board wants to visit the site to get a better picture of what has been proposed in the site plan amendment, how close the proposed mini track is to adjacent property, how much work has already been done and if the buildings listed on the site plan are in the correct positions.

"There has been a considerable amount of back and forth with the applicant about a site visit," Phillips said. First the lawyer asked why one was needed, then dates were tossed around, but never finalized. "Last week we were informed that there were certain forms that needed to be filled out before a site visit could take place," she said. The forms include listing personal information such as driver's license and social security numbers, medical history and family members. The track also required the board members to sign a waiver to release the owners and a list of unnamed entities if anything happened to them on the property.

"This raised many legal questions," she said.

The planning board voted to go into a closed-door session to receive legal counsel from Phillips.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.