MILLVILLE — The city's Planning Board unanimously approved a motocross facility next to the existing racetrack Monday — much to the delight of more than 100 motocross enthusiasts who filled City Hall.
More than a hundred people were in attendance — including dozens of teenagers and young children — in support of a new "Field of Dreams" site across Buckshutem Road from the New Jersey Motorsports Park.
During the public-hearing portion several residents spoke of the need for a legal and safe place for people to ride their bikes and ATVs. The people, from across South Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, spoke of the family sport's tradition in the area and its growing popularity. Many residents said they do not not have places in the region where people are legally allowed to ride. Board member George Mitchell joked many motocross riders have been illegally using his backyard.
James Dzierwinski, 22, of Vineland, said the nearest tracks are hours away.
"It makes it hard to enjoy what we love doing, what we grew up doing," he said.
Attorney Jeffrey DiLazzero said the facility will be about 85 acres and is part of an agreement between the Motorsports Park and city to redevelop 360 acres of land south of Buckshutem Road. The park has additional plans for the area, including a Tri-oval track.
The Field of Dreams facility will have tracks for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders, more than five miles of riding trails, a training area, buildings, race control tower and parking.
But Princeton-based developer Clayton Keeler said the initial goal is to have the facility as a place for people to practice — with possibly six to eight races in the future. DiLazzero said they anticipate having at most 50 riders on the track at one time and 100 riders a day. The facility would be open until dusk on Tuesdays and Thursday to Sunday.
"We do not intent to host world championships," he said. "It's a practice track for people in the area to ride on."
Keeler, who will lease the land from the Motorsports Park and manage the facility, said he hopes to break ground in 60 to 90 days and construction will take about four months.
Noise was a major issue for the New Jersey Motorsports Park, which ultimately ended in a settlement between the park and a residents group that sued over the facility.
Noise also was brought up at Monday’s meeting but it was not as heavily discussed as other public meetings for the Motorsports Park.
These type of parks are exempt by the state from noise laws. The city has an ordinance that restricts noise from being 80 decibels for 20 continuous minutes.
Randall Barranger, engineer for Shropshire Associates, said he made measurements at the Englishtown Raceway in Old Bridge, Middlesex County, and said the closest residential spots did not exceed the low 60s. Kershaw said the staff would check to make sure the vehicles have mufflers that would reduce noise but they do not have plans for noise readings on site.
Resident John Worthington said residents were assured by Shropshire that noise would not be an issue before the New Jersey Motorsports Park was built and the firm "was dead wrong, because it is noisy."
Worthington said the riding at the park would be yearround and in the summer would add to the noise already at the larger Motorsports Park.
"You all have a chance to help the neighbors in the area," he told the board. "At some point the rubber stamps have to go away and city officials have to think about the neighbors — not just the dollars."
But board member said the advantages from the new facility would outweigh the additional noise.
"We have to give kids an outlet," said board member Bob Gallaher. "We have to understand what a community is. It's a give and take. There will be noise but, we have to expect the riders to respect what they have."
Mayor Tim Shannon said the addition of the Motorsports Park and this new facility is an exciting time for Millville and the city needs more things to draw visitors.
"The noise issue is one you will never convince 100 percent of the issue," said Shannon, who notes he lives near Cumberland County's fairgrounds. "I could probably create myself a nuisance where it would drive me crazy. I choose to look at the event … and I'm claiming we might need a little bit more of that."
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