Delaware residents may have heard about a recent Supreme Court ruling that halted the development of a proposed motor speedway track in Felton. The Feb. 23 decision upheld a previous Superior Court ruling made in August 2016 that the land, presently the location of a small horse racing track, is not properly zoned for the construction of a dirt track motor speedway.
According to information contained in court documents, the case ended up in the courts after the owner of a neighboring winery challenged the decision of the Kent County Board of Adjustment to permit another local businessman to proceed with the project. The proposed construction project would have transformed the small horse racing track behind his automotive business near U.S. 13 and Peach Basket Road into a quarter-mile dirt race track for cars and trucks. The owner of the neighboring winery and vineyards claimed that the noise and environmental pollution would seriously jeopardize both his vineyard as well as the income he generates from the approximately 25-40 weddings that occur on his adjacent property each year.
In the winery owner’s subsequent lawsuit, a Superior Court judge ruled on Aug. 26, 2016, that a motor speedway could not be constructed on land zoned for general business and instead needed to be built in a limited industrial district. The developer of the speedway decided to immediately appeal the Superior Court’s decision to the Delaware Supreme Court but was ultimately forced to permanently cease development of the vehicle racetrack when he lost his appeal six months later.
Commercial property owners like these sometimes find themselves involved in disputes regarding property rights, zoning laws and land use. These disagreements often end up in court for a judge to decide the outcome. In some cases, it may be possible for attorneys to help commercial property owners resolve disputes with other property owners, zoning boards or government entities.