GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — An off-road motocross park was detoured after Township Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 14 to rescind an ordinance that paved the way for the project.
Approved in September, the ordinance had named a roughly 46.3-acre site that borders Garden State Parkway Exit 44 and Pomona Road at the end of East Moss Mill Road as a redevelopment area.
That allowed council, rather than the Zoning Board, to impose certain restrictions upon the conditional developer, Richard Schmidt of Bayville, the owner of Motovation, who is seeking to build a cycling center featuring an off-road course, trails, instruction, rentals, service and storage.
That vote was met with public outcry about the noise such a facility might create and the possibility of decreased property values that could result, driving council to this week's vote to revoke the decision.
“One of the reasons you do a redevelopment zone is you do it for the betterment of the community and the betterment of the town,” Mayor Don Purdy said Tuesday. “We would be able to put restrictions on it to make sure it was the best fit for the community. Since then, obviously, we’ve had a big public outcry.”
Now Schmidt will have to submit an application and appear before the Zoning Board before he can move forward with the project.
“All I know is a lot of people aren’t happy, and a lot of people are showing up to support the project,” Schmidt said before this week's meeting as council chambers filled to standing room only.
Among those opposing the project were residents of Four Seasons, a retirement community near the site.
Anthony Orcini, who lives in the Four Seasons area closest to the proposed track, said that while he understood the excitement and once had a dirt bike himself, he opposed the project.
“I moved to this community to sit in my backyard and have a barbecue and have some peace and serenity,” he said.
Purdy repeatedly told the audience that council's vote would neither stop the project nor approve it.
“One thing I want to make clear is, when we put in to rescind this particular ordinance, it does not take the ability away from the applicant to seek a project variance from the Zoning Board,” Purdy said.
Schmidt at first declined to comment after the vote, but then reiterated a portion of the speech he gave before the council: “I for one would want nothing more than to engage in a good-faith relationship with the neighbors and local community. If given the opportunity, I will do just that.”