Alan Wilzig, heir to a banking empire, began planning a racetrack at his country estate in Columbia County several years ago but the issue really started to heat up once his neighbors discovered the scope of the project. The mile-long track would be a “recreational sporting course” where he could drive his collection of 60-plus motorcycles with reckless abandon. While town officials are adamant that any commercial use would be illegal, a rather spirited and outspoken group of residents are determined to wave the black flag on Wilzig’s plans.

While most people would ensure such an expense was completely legal before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wilzig began construction first then started asking questions later. After the town Zoning Board of Appeals turned his proposition down, he retaliated by applying for a permit registered for “club or recreational use” under a 1972 zoning code.

Wilzig has allegedly spent more than $300,000 on sound berms and acoustic tests to ensure that track noise falls within legal noise limits. The township has been divided into those who feel that the track would destroy property values and those who feel that Wilzig has been respectful and empathetic to the apprehension of his neighbors. The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing next month on the proposal of Wilzig’s backyard professional-level racetrack. Such a ruling could settle the issue at hand, but my guess is that the neighborhood battle will rage on.

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